Commentary Magazine


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Enemies of the Awakening

You often hear from antiwar advocates that the American success in recruiting Sunnis to join the Awakening (Sahwa) movement is illusory. Those men are only signing up for a U.S.-provided salary, we are told. Before long they will go back to fighting us and the Shiite-dominated government again.

That may be so. But it’s interesting to note that the Al Qaeda in Iraq does not share this dismissive view when it comes to the Awakening movement. The terrorists see the Awakening–and its ability to field Sons of Iraq to defend their neighborhoods–as the most serious threat they face. That’s why they are putting so much effort into targeting Awakening members.

All of those points come through clearly in a letter written by an Al Qaeda member named Abu Sayaf. It was lifted last month off the corpse of a terrorist killed in Balad and recently released by Coalition forces. You can read the text here. The entire letter is interesting as a window into Al Qaeda’s depraved world view. It includes, for instance, a suggestion for waging biological war:

Throw large amounts of Nitric Acid even Bacteria and other materials that can spread illnesses and kill people until the enemy melts in the lakes and valleys. Even place it in the enemy’s water pipes which will spread the killing and dangerous illnesses among them.

But what is most striking to me is how concerned the author is with the Awakening and how many strategies he proposes for derailing this movement. For instance:

The soldiers of the Islamic State must deceive the enemy and inform their public (the enemy’s people) that the Awakening members are liars and deceivers, they steal and rape the women. They must spread information that they (the Awakening) are spreading corruption everywhere.

Unfortunately, it seems that some skeptics in the West have already bought into this anti-Awakening media line.