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Monday, May 10, 2004

Cracking al Qaeda's code

There are hundreds of Islamic Web sites, dozens of which are related to al-Qaeda. Last December, Lia Brynjar, an analyst at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI), found a 42-page document on the Global Islamic Media Web site entitled "Jihad Iraq: Hopes and Dangers."

The document was the outline of al-Qaeda's strategy to break up the U.S.-led Iraq coalition primarily by directing "painful strikes" against Spain. Here is some of FFI's summary:

Poland, for example, is unlikely to withdraw from the coalition because there is political consensus on foreign policy, and the country has a very high tolerance for human casualties.

Britain is easier to force out of Iraq, because the popular opposition to the war and the occupation is so high. However, the author estimates that Britain will only withdraw from Iraq in one of two cases: either if Britain suffers significant human casualties in Iraq or if Spain and Italy withdraws first...

The author devotes 6 out of 42 pages to a review of the domestic political situation in Spain...

Spain on the other hand is very vulnerable to attacks on its forces, primarily because public opposition to the war is almost total, and the government is virtually on its own on this issue. The author identifies Spain as the weakest link in the coalition...

The lack of direct influence of the Iraq events on life in Spain...

We think that the Spanish government could not tolerate more than two, maximum three, blows after which it will have to withdraw as a result of popular pressure...If its troops still remain in Iraq after these blows, then the victory of the Socialist Party is almost secured, and the withdrawal of the Spanish forces will be on its electoral program.

This forecast came true. After the Madrid train bombings in March the Spanish voted in the Socialist Party. They began removing their forces from Iraq in April.

The document also discusses uniting Sunni and Shiites in Iraq. Finding and interpreting these types of documents is another challenge for Western security agencies.

FFI explains al-Qaida document [Norwegian Defense Research Establishment(FFI)]
Cracking al Qaeda's code [US News]

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