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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The All-Purpose Terrorist, Part Two

If you believe the mainstream media, which repeats what the US military tells them, you might actually believe that a one-legged, sometimes dead, sometimes al Qaeda Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi spends half of his time hiding out in "safe houses" in Fallujah and the other half planting bombs all over Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, through his shadowy organization, Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad (MAHW, as Juan Cole translates it), and the third half beheading foreign contractors. Juan Cole suspects that Zarqawi's hyperactivity is likely mostly propaganda on the part of either Zarqawi, other Iraqi resistance leaders, or the U.S. military:
Although the shadowy Monotheism and Holy War (MAHW) organization tried to take credit for the Baghdad bombing, it most likely was committed by Iraqi nationalists. It is not clear whether these post-Baath nationalists are using MAHW as a screen, or whether MAHW is grandstanding and just taking credit, or whether American intelligence organizations are using MAHW as plot device that allows the Bush administration to continue to link Iraq and al-Qaeda. (Actually, anyway, Monotheism and Holy War is a rival to al-Qaeda that refuses to share resources with it, so even if it exists it doesn't prove an al-Qaeda link to Iraq).
Of course, a lot of confusion about Zarqawi could have been avoided, and a lot of death and mayhem prevented, if the U.S. had either killed him before the war or traded some anti-Iranian terrorists to Iran in exchange for Zarqawi and other al Qaedans they were holding last year. But either one would have destroyed the all-purpose terrorist the Bushies need: Zarqawi being in Iraq (albeit in the northern part out of Saddam's control) in 2002 was the only tie they had between Iraq and al Qaeda, so they needed him as justification for the invasion they were planning. They wanted to accuse Iran of harboring terrorists (in jail!), so they refused to make the trade. And now that they've captured Saddam, they needed someone to blame all the car bombs and beheadings on, and as an excuse to try and bomb various cities, particularly Fallujah, into submission.

Don't be surprised to hear one of the Bushies claim that Zarqawi was spotted in Syria or the West Bank--or Venezuela, for that matter.