TCS Daily


When Fanaticism Is Your Only Skill

By Michael Fumento - June 13, 2006 12:00 AM

Ding-dong the wicked son-of-b--- is dead! Like the Wicked Witch of the East a house fell on him, or in on him anyway. Even some terrorists are glad Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is gone -- he was giving murder and mayhem a bad name.

I've just returned from an embed with 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at a modern Fort Apache in east Ramadi. That's a favorite stomping ground of the group al-Zarqawi headed, Al-Qaeda in Iraq. There I was repeatedly machine-gunned, sniped, and mortared as I detail in my "The New Band of Brothers" article in the current Weekly Standard. And no, it wasn't fun. But it's given me a perspective that's perhaps more sanguine than you'll hear from desk-bound policy wonks -- a perspective shared by those who've been fighting al-Zarqawi's henchmen for a long time.

While in Ramadi and earlier in Fallujah, I saw much terrorist handiwork and was underwhelmed. They have some good snipers -- one nearly popped the skull of a soldier standing right in front of me. But otherwise they seem genetically incapable of aiming weapons, relying instead on sheer volume of fire and luck. As for their "ingenuity" with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), from January to mid-May 1st Battalion and its support elements had destroyed 667 of the bombs, inadvertently detonated 378 more without fatalities, and suffered deaths (five total) from only two.

First Battalion and its support elements routinely kill more than five jihadists in a single day. But such an incredible kill ratio is actually disturbing. As I witnessed, no matter how readily they're mowed down -- and with so little success themselves -- the bad guys just keep on coming and coming. Their only real "skill" is fanaticism. It would seem that the death of even so important a leader as al-Zarqawi might have little effect on such people. As Capt. Joe Claburn, commander of C Company, 1st Battalion told me recently in an email:

"The impact will be minimal at best Remember, these jihadists typically have no direct ties to their leaders. Al-Zarqawi was a figurehead, and now as a martyr he will continue to be. Someone else will step up into his place as the spiritual leader and self-proclaimed leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq."

The death was good for troop morale, he said. "We felt like clapping and cheering when the announcement was made." But as a PSYOPS tool, Claburn felt perhaps it fell short. "We went out with loud speakers to exploit the death and encourage the people to finally stand up against the foreign fighters in Ramadi. We had an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] shot at us shortly afterwards. I guess they didn't like the message. :)"

He also worries that any favorable impact al-Zarqawi's death may be countered by the allegations of civilian killings at Haditha, just northeast of Ramadi. "They will cast a shadow over our successes yet again and it is frustrating," he says.

Add to this that al-Zarqawi directly commanded a relatively small number of the bad guys in Iraq, and you might think his death almost meaningless, except that he did apparently plan and execute (ahem) some of the most damaging operations of the war. But even were his death only symbolic, it could be a powerful symbol indeed.

In Fallujah I spoke with an Iraqi general who frankly told me success on the battlefield meant nothing more than the impact it has on the populace. Al-Zarqawi's continued existence had become a terrible embarrassment for both the fledgling Iraqi government and military coalition forces; now he's been sent down to his richly-deserved 72 perpetually renewing devils. "The more the people trust the government, the easier my job becomes," the general told me. His job is easier now.

Meanwhile, Capt. Claburn says, "The good feeling has already worn off and we are back to concentrating on our job. There are a lot more bad guys to go after and a lot more things need to happen before we can call this place stable. We are getting there, but it's going to take as much patience and determination to win here and throughout Iraq as it has taken to finally kill Al-Zarqawi."

Michael Fumento (U.S. Army Airborne, 1978-82), a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, has been embedded twice in Al Anbar. He may be reached at Fumento@pobox.com.

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11 Comments

keeping on coming
Sure, it's their fanaticism that prompts them to keep on coming because the rank and file(though not their leaders)wish for death. It's the good guys role to just keep on killing them. No problem, as the author said, the kill ratio is in our favor. If they want to die, we can oblige them, till they eventually change their minds, which is bound to happen; always has in history I blieve, except in those situations where the appeasers gave in to the terrorists.

newsflash: Zarqawi's 72 virgins
I've just heard that along with other terrorists, Z had a 16 year old wife who was also killed. Here's my question; does that mean he only gets 71 virgins now? Or was he too impatient to wait for them? Apparently old ayatollah Komeini also had had 16 year old cherry girl, a coulple of years before he died.

RE: newsflash: Zarqawi's 72 virgins
"I've just heard that along with other terrorists, Z had a 16 year old wife who was also killed."

Yes. And they had an 18 month old, who was also reportedly killed.

Let's do some math: 16 years - 18 months - 9 months = Zark was one sick pedophile. Good riddance to him.

When Fanaticism is Your Only Skill
"As I witnessed, no matter how readily they're mowed down - - and with so little success themselves - - the bad guys just keep on coming and coming."

PERFECT - Keep mowing them down and one day, perhaps, they'll be dead - hopefully all of them. What's wrong with this plan??

Dietmar - "Cherry Girl"
Good one Dietmar - I've always thought that males who lusted after female virginity shows such an obvious picture of themselves as severely lacking confidence in their own sexual performance. So, I think all of the Islamic believers of this "gift" of 72 when they die is so pathetic - pathetic that they know they are such bad performers on earth that they think they'll improve in their hereafter or at least their unknowledgeable "72" will not know how bad they really are in this area. I wish they understood this. They wouldn't be so ready to enter eternity by way of their suicide attacks.

The Price Of Oil
And where does this fanatacism originate? Saudi Arabia, of course. That's why this so-called "War on Terror" IS A TRAGIC FARCE.

What Saudis preach -- and practice
By Clifford D, May
Scripps Howard News Service, May 31, 2006

Nina Shea, director of FREEDOM HOUSE's Center for Religious Freedom, wrote; "indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and expanded each year. By the 12th grade, students following the Saudi curriculum will be instructed that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against the infidel to 'spread the faith.'"

What's more, such ideas are being taught not only to Saudi students but also to children in SAUDI-FUNDED SCHOOLS in Pakistan, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy -- and the United States as well.

...The truth is that what is written in Saudi textbooks reflects the world view of Wahhabism, an extremist movement launched 250 years ago by Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. A grand bargain between the Wahhab family and the House of Sa'ud eventually gave rise to modern Saudi Arabia and established Wahhabism as its state religion.

...If Saudi leaders truly believed in interfaith respect they'd invite leaders of other religions to establish houses of worship on Saudi soil -- as mosques have been constructed from Washington to London to Tel Aviv. To a devout Saudi Wahhabi, however, such a notion is unthinkable and repugnant. WE FAIL TO ACKNOWLEDGE THIS REALITY AT OUR PERIL.

http://www.shns.com/shns/g_index2.cfm?action=detail&pk=MAY-05-31-06

When fanaticism is your only skill
you probably post for the MoveOn.org

It is time for a treaty with Saudi Arabia
It is time for a treaty with Saudi Arabia granting Muslims in America the same rights that memebers of other religions have in Saudi Arabia.

If we don't debate my proposal too much, the Saudis might not realize that the treaty would actually be a Constitutionaly legal way of stripping Muslims in America of practically all their rights.

US ADS
Great PR piece and if your a true believer in the Neo-Con camp then you might even swallow it hook line and sinker.
Why not save yourself some time and just grab the set pieces written for other conflicts and just change the names.
How many Neo-Cons will be voting for the democrats next election so they can blame them for when you eventually pull out and go home.
There is great potential for this intervention to help our middle eastern Brothers but some how you keep f*king it up. A quick review of these post's shows us why. If you don’t respect them how can you help them.

It is time for a treaty with Saudi Arabaia
Well put. I like the way you think!

Those idiots had it all wrong......
The truth is 70 DEMONS are now having their way with him.

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