Zarqawi Pulls in al Qaeda’s Horns in Iraq, Establishes Firm Hold on Anbar

Although the US army has carried out one counter-insurgency operation after another in the vast Anbar province of western Iraq – a territory about the size of Texas – Abu Musab al Zarqawi has solidly established al Qaeda’s Iraq wing as the dominant force there. Reporting this, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources add that the Jordanian terrorist has also confounded the frequent claims that he is on the run and a step away from capture.

The strategic importance of Anbar as commanding the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia is incalculable.

According to intelligence estimates, Zarqawi holds on to the area with a little more than 5,000 men, of whom roughly 1,000 are Saudi and Yemeni zealots, 300 Jordanian and an unknown number of Syrians, Moroccans and Palestinians. His firm grip on Anbar persuaded the al Qaeda hierarchy in Pakistan and Afghanistan that 1,000 men could be expended from other parts of Iraq and diverted to the new terror offensive outside Iraq.

In a message to his superiors, revealed here for the first time, Zarqawi offered his estimate that after three years of joint combat, Iraqi insurgents ought to be capable of conducting their guerrilla war against the Americans henceforth unaided. They are now able to dispense with al Qaeda’s aid and instruction. He therefore recommended reducing the terror organization’s involvement in Iraq to the minimum needed to retain its control and focus on two objectives:

1. To preserve al Qaeda-Iraq’s hold on Anbar Province.

2. It is clear from his language that he sees this region as a territorial base and springboard for attacks in other parts of the Middle East and Europe.

These attacks will aim at engulfing additional territories in the region and toppling regimes.

The onset of the new al Qaeda offensive indicates that Zarqawi’s superiors have bought his blueprint.

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