So says the recently captured number one Iraqi member of al Qaeda in Iraq (short of Baghdadi) Khaled Mashhadani, who claims they used a local actor to voice over the big guy's internet rantings to give them that hometown feel.
Well. Guess that solves the mystery of whether the Iraqi government captured him or not. Or whether he was formerly a big-wig in Saddam's Army. Or whether he was actually the son of Revolutionary Command Council leader Izzat al-Duri.
But how about the biggest rumor of them all--that Mashhadani himself is actually the big, bad Baghdadi?
At this point it's probably best not jump ahead of ourselves. Baghdadi first surfaced after the death of his beloved leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Everyone suspects the Z-man was behind the shellacking of the Golden Mosque, which started Iraq on it's current road to civil war. But...we were just told by the New York Times that Zarqawi wasn't so hot for Usama and might have been more of a rival. They did this to provide a separation between the 'real AQ' in the caves and the version present in Iraq to undermine Bush's latest rhetoric.
But let's stop and clear this up once and for all. When Bush says the "folks in Iraq" committing suicide bomb attacks are the same folks who "attacked us on 9/11" he doesn't mean they are literally the same flesh. He doesn't mean they are all hail from Saudi Arabia like a majority of the 9/11 hijackers or that they come from Pakistan tribal areas. He means they are of the SAME IDEOLOGICAL STRIPE. Why is that so hard to understand, fractured as it is coming from Bush, for the tougher and smarter set?
Back to Baghdadi. Another weirdity is that he was thought to have been the leader of the Mujahadeen Shura Council, which calls into question whether it even existed or not:
Furthermore, when the Council was formed a statement on a Jihadist website announced that Zarqawi had stepped aside as “emir” of the Council in favor of an Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi. This statement is likely symbolic, but shows a recognition of the growing discontent with “foreign” elements of the Iraqi insurgency.This is still in line with him being fictitious especially with the last sentence mentioned they replaced Zarqawi to create a more native feel to AQ in Iraq.
There were several reasons to create a Mujahadeen leader to replace Zarqawi with a more local flavor. By saying he was a former Republican Guard member that sets him up as a local Sunni patriot with status and prestige due to his former position, not someone taking orders from a cave. This would be fine with the US media, who largely paint the insurgency as home-grown anyway. The question of whether he was still loyal to the Butcher despite his fightin' for Allah was one the MSM would never ask nor answer anyway.
Surely the left will use this to claim further proof of how transparent AQ in Iraq really is while simultaneously trumping up the latest NIE report saying bin Laden still wants to open some cans of jihadi whoopass on us. Maybe the ties are closer than they think.
It's been reported that Izzat al-Duri actually helped organize the insurgency before and after the invasion with help from the Fedyeen Saddam paramilitary group and with Saddam's blessing. Matter of fact it's also been reported, not so widely, that Saddam was moving towards a more Islamic feel for years prior to 9/11, which seems to fit in nicely with all this Shura Council Baghdadi nonsense. At the same time the cave dwellers have been more than happy to come along for the Iraq ride, which helps Bush. They basically said nothing when Hizballah was attacking Israel last summer. Just sayin'.
More later. Meanwhile check out Debbie's place, which is chock full of links.