President George W. Bush has flogged the same theme in lashing Democrats who favor a military withdrawal from Iraq.
But these appeals from the RNC and Bush ignore U.S. intelligence information indicating that what al-Qaeda really wants is for the United States to remain bogged down in Iraq so the terrorist band can use the American occupation to recruit and train a new generation of jihadists, who can then be deployed against targets outside Iraq.
In effect, Bush and bin Laden share a common goal in Iraq. They both want U.S. forces to "stay the course."
Recently disclosed internal al-Qaeda communiqués make clear that bin Laden's terrorist band is counting on a long-term U.S. occupation of Iraq to build its movement.
Atiyah told Zarqawi that "the most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength, clarity of justification, and visible proof each day. Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest." [Emphasis added.]
The "Atiyah letter" like a previously intercepted message attributed to al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri suggests that a U.S. military pullout in 2005 or earlier would have been disastrous for al-Qaeda's militants in Iraq, which are estimated at only about 5 to 10 percent of the anti-U.S. fighters.
Without the U.S. military presence to serve as a rallying cry and a unifying force, the al-Qaeda contingent faced disintegration from desertions and attacks from Iraqi insurgents who resented the wanton bloodshed committed by Zarqawi's non-Iraqi terrorists.
The "Zawahiri letter," which was dated July 9, 2005, said a rapid American military withdrawal could have caused the foreign jihadists, who had flocked to Iraq to battle the Americans, to simply give up the fight and go home.
"The mujahaddin must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal," said the "Zawahiri letter," according to a text released by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.
The "Atiyah letter," which was discovered by U.S. authorities at the time of Zarqawi's death on June 7, 2006, and was translated by the U.S. military's Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, also stressed the vulnerability of al-Qaeda's position in Iraq and the need to buy time.
Into al-Qaeda's Hands
So, by extending the U.S. occupation of Iraq rather than looking for an early exit Bush has played into al-Qaeda's hands. Indeed, looking back over Bush's almost six years in office, his actions or some might say his blunders have repeatedly benefited bin Laden's strategies.