***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/ *****
Subject: The Zarqawi Node in the Terror Matrix
In mapping out Iraq's links to international terrorism before the United
Nations Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell highlighted the
case of senior al Qaeda commander Fedel Nazzel Khalayleh, better known as
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
In fact, Zarqawi exemplifies not only the Iraq role in the web of
international terror but serves as a case in point of the terror matrix
itself. Zarqawi's activities on behalf of al Qaeda span the globe, from
Afghanistan to Great Britain, with equally diverse links to other terrorist
groups, from Ansar al-Islam in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon to al-Tawhid in
Germany and Beyyiat el-Imam in Turkey. At least 116 terrorist operatives
from Zarqawi's global network have already been arrested, including members
in France, Italy, Spain, Britain, Germany, Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
WHO IS ZARQAWI?
A Palestinian-Jordanian and veteran of the Afghan war against the Soviets,
Zarqawi first appeared as a terror suspect when Jordan indicted him in
absentia for his role in the al Qaeda millennial bombing plot targeting the
Radison SAS hotel in Amman as well as other American, Israeli, and Christian
religious sites in Jordan. In 2000 he returned to Afghanistan, where he
oversaw a terrorist training camp and specialized in chemical and biological
weapons. European officials maintain Zarqawi is the al Qaeda coordinator for
attacks there, where chemical attacks were recently thwarted in Britain,
France, and Italy. In fact, Secretary Powell informed that Abuwatia (ph), a
detainee who graduated from Zarqawi's terrorist camp in Afghanistan,
admitted to dispatching at least nine North African extremists to travel to
Europe to conduct poison and explosive attacks.
Zarqawi heads Jund al-Shams, an Islamic extremist group and al Qaeda
affiliate which operated primarily in Syria and Jordan, but is now believed
to have moved to the Ansar al-Islam enclave in the Kurdish region of
northern Iraq where he helped establish a new poison and explosive training
camp. Powell noted that Zarqawi's lieutenants operate the Ansar al-Islam
camp in coordination with a senior Iraqi agent "in the most senior levels of
the radical organization."
TERROR TO GO
Zarqawi's own movements are themselves telling. After being wounded in the
leg in Afghanistan, Zarqawi escaped to Iran. While there, he dispatched two
Palestinians and a Jordanian who entered Turkey illegally from Iran on their
way to conduct bombing attacks in Israel. The three, members of Beyyiat
el-Imam (a group linked to al Qaeda) who fought for the Taliban and received
terrorist training in Afghanistan, were intercepted and arrested by Turkish
police on February 15, 2002.
From Iran Zarqawi traveled to Iraq in May 2002, where his wounded leg was
amputated and the limb fitted with a prosthetic device. He spent two months
recovering in Baghdad, at which time "nearly two dozen extremists converged
on Baghdad and established a base of operations there." Powell informed that
"these Al Qaida affiliates, based in Baghdad, now coordinate the movement of
people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network, and
they've now been operating freely in the capital for more than eight
While Iraq maintained it was unaware of the whereabouts of Zarqawi or other
terrorists, Powell informed the Security Council that the United States
passed information to Iraqi authorities on Zarqawi's location in the Iraqi
capitol via a third party.
From Baghdad Zarqawi traveled to Syria, and from there to Lebanon where he
met with leaders from Hezbollah and other extremists at a terror training
camp in South Lebanon. In fact, Zarqawi has been definitively linked both to
Hezballah as well as a terrorist cell apprehended in Germany that had been
operating under the name Tawhid. German prosecutors announced that the
group, tied to the recently arrested Abu Qatada in Britain but controlled by
Zarqawi, was planning to attack U.S. or Israeli interests in Germany. Eight
men were arrested, and raids yielded hundreds of forged passports from Iran,
Iraq, Jordan, Denmark, and other countries.
While in Syria Zarqawi planned and facilitated the October assassination of
Lawrence Foley, a U.S. official with the Agency for International
Development. In December a Libyan and a Jordanian were arrested for the
attack. Jordan's prime minister announced that the pair received funding and
instructions from Zarqawi, and intended to conduct attacks against "foreign
embassies, Jordanian officials, some diplomatic personnel, especially
Americans and Israelis." Powell revealed that after the murder, one of the
assassin's associates "left Jordan to go to Iraq to obtain weapons and
explosives for further operations."
Zarqawi is now believed to have returned to the Ansar al-Islam camp in
northern Iraq run by his Jund al-Shams lieutenants. Terrorists trained at
the camp have plotted chemical attacks with various toxins in Britain,
France, Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, and Chechnya.
THE TERROR MATRIX
The Zarqawi network highlights the matrix of relationships that define
today's international terrorist threat. Indeed, international terrorism is a
web linking many disparate groups. Senior U.S. and European officials have
noted that although Hezbollah and al Qaeda do not appear to share
operational support, they have engaged in logistical cooperation on an ad
hoc and tactical basis, as well as cooperative training.
Support networks play a particularly crucial role in the matrix of
relationships among terrorists. For example, over the past year, evidence
has shown that the al-Taqwa banking network - which was shut down shortly
after the September 11 attacks in light of its ties to al Qaeda - was a
preferred conduit for transferring funds to Hamas and a host of North
African terrorist groups, in addition to being established with seed money
from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Moreover, state sponsors of terrorism continue to play a central role, as
evidenced by the hospitality showed Zarqawi by Iran, Iraq, and Syria. For
example, Syria has provided a great deal of assistance against al Qaeda, but
is nevertheless believed to be supplying rockets directly to Hezbollah.
Damascus should be told in no uncertain terms to direct its counterterrorism
cooperation against all terrorists. Tehran continues to support Hezbollah
and Palestinian terrorist groups as well, and has given senior al Qaeda
officials sanctuary in villages along its eastern border with Afghanistan
and Pakistan. And the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan, Powell announced, served as
Saddam's liaison to al Qaeda from 1999 through 2001.
To ignore these links is to forfeit hope of any real progress toward
constricting the operating environment in which terrorist plan, fund and
execute terrorist attacks. To be effective, the war on terror must have a
strategic focus on the entirety of the terror matrix. Tactically, this must
translate into taking action against both operational and logistical
networks, as well as targeting the full range of groups making up terror
web - from Jund al-Shams, Beyyiat el-Imam and al-Tawhid to al Qaeda,
Hezbollah, and Hamas - and the states that continue to support them.
- Matthew A. Levitt is senior fellow in terrorism studies at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy.
SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
network researchers (http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/). To unsubscribe, send
an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.