CENTCOM just posted a friendly message from Terrorist-du-jour Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. Check it out, and see how the other side thinks. Here's a peek:
Since yesterday, the battles for revenge started all over the land of the two rivers. The raid for avenging the Sunni people in Tall far has started.
Celebrate and sing the praise of God, O nation of Islam. The battalions of monotheism have set out, pledging to die in support of the faith and its people. They were spearheaded by the best of the battalions, the Al-Bara Bin-Malik Battalion.
Approach us, O paradise. O brigade of martyrdom-seeker: Celebrate and sing the praise of God, for tomorrow you will meet the beloved ones, Muhammad and his companions. You have never accepted injustice, O lions of monotheism. This is your day. Go after the heads of the infidels, the Jews, the Crusaders, and the descendants of Ibn al-Alqami [derogatory term for Shia named after Ibn-al-Alqami, a Shia minister who was accused of betraying the last Abbasid caliph Al-Musta'ism during Hulugu's attack on Baghdad in 1258]. Do not show any mercy toward them.
Sounds like he's throwing down the gauntlet, huh? I think I know what's got him so ruffled. It seems that my old history professor, COL H.R. McMaster, decided to put some roadblocks on Syria's terrorist expressway. Here's a clip from the COL's recent press briefing (thanks to Mike for sending):
Q: You've painted an extremely rosy picture of your campaign so far. Have you taken and secured Tall Afar, and are you going to be able to hold it and keep it?
COL. MCMASTER: Yeah. Those are great questions. Nothing's rosy in Iraq, okay? So I don't want to give you an unrealistic perspective here. What I tried to describe with you was a continuous interaction with the enemy that we've had since our arrival, but an interaction that has been in our favor. We've maintained the initiative over this enemy.
So is Tall Afar secure? No, it's not secure. Is the enemy on the run in Tall Afar? Yes, the enemy's on the run. And we're going to conduct some follow-on operations in the next week or so to relentlessly pursue the enemy across the city.
The standard for success for us here is to ensure that the enemy can no longer wage an effective campaign of intimidation over the population of Tall Afar. And to get to your question, in terms of can we permanently secure it, the answer is, yes, and we're taking all measures to do that. In fact, it's the most complicated part of the mission, is how we provide permanent security. We're introducing Iraqi security forces into the center of the city. Iraqi army will have access to the population. They'll be in patrol bases in the interior of the city.
I think my old prof sounds more intelligent than Zarqawi, but maybe I'm biased. Bottom line- Zarqawi is upset. Which brings me to my next point. During my last few posts, I invited some thoughtful debate about why our government decided to remove Saddam from power. I saw some good points from all sides, and I appreciate all the emails and comments. My thoughts on the subject are simple- the terrorists want us to fail in Iraq. They have decided that their very survival depends on turning Iraq into another Mogidishu. If this were to happen, it would be the unthinkable. This is why our troops are there. This is why failure is not an option. It doesn't matter what Saddam had or didn't have. It doesn't matter what he was planning to do in the future. That's all been settled. The fight is with a different enemy now- an enemy that has very little to do with Saddam (they didn't like him either), and everything to do with the ongoing fight against terrorists.
More on this later, but for now I'd just encourage everyone to read COL McMaster's entire press briefing- it's good reading and it really puts the current situation in perspective. And please- read the news releases on the CENTCOM page. This conflict has entered a new phase, and the MSM has no clue what's going on.
More bad news for Zarqawi and the gang- the 101st Airborne Division is heading back to Iraq. Stay tuned...