2. “Jihadist Iraq – Hopes and Dangers”
That is the title the Moroccan psychiatrist and strategic specialist Dr. Abu Hafiza gave the 42-page plan of action he formulated for al Qaeda and presented to its chiefs, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zuwahiri last year. Incorporated in the document, which DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s experts have studied, are the plans and rationale for the Madrid train bombings and their predetermined outcome as being the downfall of the Aznar government, its replacement with a party pledged to remove Spanish troops from Iraq and the next stages of the al Qaeda campaign, whose ultimate target is George W. Bush.
The document was published by a body which no one has ever heard of called “The Information Institution for the Salvation of the Iraqi People, Center for Services to Combatants.”
It is packed full of an astonishing amount of intelligence data, especially on the Americans, which the author draws on freely for making his penetrating evaluations of situations in the field, determining the weak points of the US military and civil administration in Iraq, sketching psychological profiles of policy-makers running institutions al Qaeda has targeted and for simple and clear operational recommendations.
Two examples are instructive:
One, Hafiza has produced a detailed analysis of the cost of maintaining US forces in Iraq and the dollar losses al Qaeda is capable of inflicting on the Americans through terror attacks. Two, before recommending the attack in Madrid, he analyzed the results of all Spain’s elections since 1982, one by one, and drew lessons. He noted that the 9/11 attacks in America gave Spain its first chance ever to distance itself from the dominant European axis of France and Germany and align with the United States.
Jose Maria Aznar, Spain’s defeated prime minister, received searching attention as a factor in the outcome of the Madrid bombings. He was found to be a complicated character with unusual religious tendencies whose powerful aspiration for a place in history he believed would come about through his close association with Washington. This aspiration was diagnosed as the Achilles heel that al Qaeda could exploit for his undoing by subjecting Spain to terror.
The Moroccan psychiatrist predicted two gains for al Qaeda from the downfall of Bush’s close ally, Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi: a severe blow against a world center of heresy, the Vatican, and the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq in the wake of Spain.
He did not recommend action against the Polish force, which attracts little international notice and whose presence in Iraq plays no role in domestic politics in Warsaw. However, once the Spanish and Italian forces are gone, Tony Blair will be under heavy pressure at home to remove the British contingent from Iraq too. Aside from the British stake in the oil resources of southern Iraq, the writers found that the UK derives little benefit from its military presence in the country. Blair, confronted with a choice between oil and staying in office, will undoubtedly opt for the latter, removing the last prop holding up the US presence and strategy in Iraq.
“After knocking over one domino after another,” Hafiza writes, “We will stand face to face with the key domino, the United States.”
Iraq is Al Qaeda’s main confrontation arena with US
For the present, he says, Iraq is al Qaeda’s main battle arena and its direct confrontation with the United States is ordained to take place on Iraqi soil.
The Moroccan psychiatrist concedes that America is very strong and al Qaeda’s resources puny. He therefore recommends following the strategic doctrine laid down by the Saudi Sheikh Yusuf Avivi, one of al Qaeda’s most outstanding commanders in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Avivi refutes the “conventional al Qaeda strategy” of striking large-scale enemy concentrations to prevent them from settling in one place, like the Americans in Iraq or the Russians in Chechnya, and force them to cut back on their strength. Avivi developed a reverse strategy. He proposes guerrilla forays to harass large enemy forces and drive them to shelter in their bases where they are easy prey for terrorist attack. In Iraq, he recommends propelling American troops into the cities, where terrorist strikes can inflict the largest number of enemy casualties.
The tactic Hafiza accordingly advised al Qaeda to adopt in Iraq was made up of the following steps:
Pinning the US army down in the main Iraqi cities after it hands security over to Iraqi forces. This increases its vulnerability to terror. The car bomb attack that destroyed Mount Lebanon Hotel in downtown Baghdad on Wednesday, March 17, was one of the most savage Iraq has known. A whole block of apartments was gutted by flames that burned for several hours.
Al Qaeda agents in the Iraqi capital were aware that US forces are in the middle of redeploying in eight bases outside the city having delegated security in the town to Iraqi forces. They know that as long as terror attacks are rampant, US forces are in no position to hand security over to the Iraqis. This prevents them from pulling back to perimeter bases and keeps them confined en masse inside Baghdad, so falling into the positions prescribed by Sheikh Avivi.
Refraining from interfering with essential utilities such as water, electricity, bridges and food supply centers so as not to upset the tenor of everyday life in the country and make enemies of the people. The smooth running of services also facilitates the movements of al Qaeda’s terrorist cells from place to place and helps them mingle with the population and keep them supportive.
Iraqi recruits to the new army and security services are not expected to turn themselves into dedicated and efficient operational barriers to al Qaeda’s campaign despite the massive investment in money and logistics the Americans have laid out to create Iraqi military and police forces.
Establishing a dense concentration of terror cells in the main Shiite cities of Karbala, Najef, Basra and parts of Baghdad as well as the medium sized towns, al Amara, Naseriyah, Hilla, Baquba and Dawaniya. Abu Hafiza proposed bypassing the existing Shiite parties and militias which follow Muqtada Sadr and the Ayatollahs Hakim and Sistani, and creating a new Shiite Islamic party under al Qaeda’s guidance.
In other words, while US strategists are adjusting their tactics to the Zarqawi memorandum, Al Qaeda agents in the Shiite regions are obeying the Abu Hafiza guidelines, which they received last August before it was published over the Internet.
Reporting on his findings in Iraq, the Moroccan psychiatrist judged that US forces after quitting the cities planned to focus on protecting the oil fields, installations and pipelines, and securing the highway network linking the cities. He therefore proposed making these facilities al Qaeda’s foremost targets.
After the Madrid bombings attested to the fact that bin Laden and Zuwahiri embraced the Hafiza document as their plan of action, al Qaeda may now be expected to step up its attacks on Iraqi oil facilities.