Some members of AQI are defecting.
As Zawahiri feared, if AQI cannot maintain unity with the population and within the movement, they will fail. The war will be fought in the shadows. Tipsters inform the coalition about AQI membership and activities and the coalition takes them out in midnight raids.
Al-Qaeda’s brutality was too much even for its own members. Now they are turning on AQI along with the Sunni Tribes and nationalist insurgents.
Fed up with being part of a group that cuts off a person’s face with piano wire to teach others a lesson, dozens of low-level members of al-Qaeda in Iraq are daring to become informants for the US military in a hostile Baghdad neighbourhood.
The ground-breaking move in Doura is part of a wider trend that has started in other al-Qaeda hotspots across the country and in which Sunni insurgent groups and tribal sheikhs have stood together with the coalition against the extremist movement.
“They are turning. We are talking to people who we believe have worked for al-Qaeda in Iraq and want to reconcile and have peace,” said Colonel Ricky Gibbs, commander of the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, which oversees the area.
The low-ranking men are important. The know the operations within their immediate cell, including who the leader is. They probably do not know much on their own, but they lead to the arrests of other members of that cell. Intel is collected and this leads to a new cell where the process repeats.
This is the same tactic police use to break apart criminal organizations. You arrest or “turn” the low ranking members and they report on their cell leaders. The Police and Military work their way up the chain of command, catching bigger and bigger fish.
It is impossible to corroborate the claims, but he said that scores of junior al-Qaeda in Iraq members there had become informants since May, including one low-level cell leader who gave vital information after his arrest.
“He gave us dates, places and names and who did what,” Lieutenant Danly said. When asked why he was being so forthcoming, the man said: “Because I am sick of it and I hate them, and I am done.”
The Intel seems good in many cases and is producing results.
This also concurs with MNF report that AQI leadership is regenerating slowly. It takes them longer and longer to replenish their losses.
A recent tip-off led to the fatal shooting of Abu Kaldoun, one of three senior al-Qaeda leaders in Doura, during a US raid last week. “He was turned in by one of his own,” Colonel Michael said.
The increased presence of US forces in Doura, however, is encouraging insiders to overcome their fear and divulge what they know. Convoys of US soldiers are working the rubble-strewn streets day and night, knocking on doors, speaking to locals and following up leads on possible insurgent hideouts.
Clear and Hold.
The flaw with earlier US strategies was that they attacked Al-Qaeda directly without securing the population. AQ could then terrorize the population to prevent cooperation. The COIN operation establishes security and recruits locals into the police force. This emboldens them to speak out against al-Qaeda. Intelligence has increased dramatically. The coalition is flooded with a 10 fold increase in tips and many former insurgents are defecting to the Iraqi government.