Al Qaeda has mounted a counter-offensive in the West Iraqi province of al Anbar less than a month after its strongholds in the province were destroyed by beefed-up American forces in conjunction with local tribes. This has just been disclosed by DEBKA-Net–Weekly’s military sources.
Taking advantage of the shock generated by its assassination in Baghdad’s Mansour Hotel of six tribal sheiks working with the Americans (see separate article), al Qaeda pulled its fighting units out of Azamiya, Mansour and Rashid districts in the capital, smuggled them past US and Iraqi checkpoints to Ramadi and Falluja and then to their old Anbar hideouts.
The jihadists’ objectives are not territorial but bloody reprisals against the tribal allies of the US army, members of the Anbar Salvation Council.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources report that already six of the fifteen tribal chiefs surviving the Mansour Hotel massacre have been murdered.
A second objective is to restore Anbar Province by means of terror and intimidation to the state of havoc over which Qaeda reigned before its ouster.
The US command in Iraq responded to the new crisis Thursday, June 28, by sending two battalions to the embattled province to repulse al Qaeda and salvage from collapse the hard-won achievements of the US-tribal alliance in pacifying Anbar.
In two further disturbing developments Thursday, June 28, a new Al Qaeda branch sprang up in Yemen announcing a new offensive against American anti-terror forces in the country and threatening to oust President Ali Abdullah Salah unless he expels US forces.
Al Qaeda has also released a new tape in which fluent English-speaking extremists direct a message to an American audience informing them that the war is just beginning.
These activities follow on al Qaeda’s 48-Hour blitz this week, more about which in the next article of this issue.