Author Topic: WL Cable: Sheikh's kidnapping demonstrates shift in Aqiz targeting in Salah...  (Read 2227 times)

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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 000220
 
SIPDIS
 
NOFORN
SIPDIS
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/20/2017
TAGS: PTER PGOV PINR IZ


SUBJECT: PRT TIKRIT: SHEIKH'S KIDNAPPING DEMONSTRATES SHIFT IN AQIZ TARGETING IN SALAH AD DIN
 
Classified By: Stephanie Miley, PRT Team Leader, for reasons 1.5 (b) an
d (d).
 
¶1. (U) This is a PRT Tikrit, Salah ad Din cable.

 
¶2. (S/NF) SUMMARY. The January 8 kidnapping of Sheikh
Ahmad "Naji" Hussein Ajabarah al Jabouri, head of the Salad
ad Din (SaD) Sheikhs Council, represents what could be a
significant shift in al Qaeda (AQIZ) targeting toward
legitimate provincial government and tribal institutions in
the province. The targeting shift appears to coincide with
the AQIZ-affiliated Mujahidin Shuria Council's (MSC) mid-
October 2006 declaration of the "Islamic State of Iraq"
(ISI). For Sheikh Naji's safe return, AQIZ has demanded
political support from the powerful and politically savvy
Ajbarah al Jabouri tribe, which includes the Deputy
Governor, in what appears to be an attempt to co-opt
provincial government and tribal officials into
legitimizing AQIZ's establishment of an Islamic state. At
the same time, AQIZ has been working to validate their role
in the community on the village level. Other reporting
indicates the gap between AQIZ and Sunni insurgent
organizations in the province may be widening, with
previous marriages of convenience breaking down in
recognition of the two very different end states desired.
AQIZ's entrance into the provincial political arena in
Salah ad Din appears to be maladroit and may prove to be a
serious misstep. The Ajbarah al Jabouri tribe is
formidable, and it has the potential to turn large portions
of the province's population against AQIZ, especially in
light of other insurgent groups' growing reluctance to work
with AQIZ. END SUMMARY.
 
--------------------------------------------- -----
Kidnapping the Province's Highest Tribal Authority
--------------------------------------------- -----
 
¶3. (S) While returning from the hajj, Sheikh Ahmad "Naji"
Hussein Ajbarah al Jabouri was kidnapped on January 8 south
of Samarra city. According to eye witnesses and younger
brother SaD Deputy Governor Abdullah Ajbarah, Sheikh Naji
was abducted by three known AQIZ operatives who are based
in the al Duluyiah area of the province. According to a
close PRT contact with direct access, several local Sunni
insurgent groups stopped by Sheikh Naji's home in the al
Alam suburb of Tikrit on January 13 to indicate they were
not involved in the kidnapping and to express their
condolences to tribal relatives. On the same day, seven
AQIZ affiliates, announcing themselves as such, also
presented themselves to indicate that they had kidnapped
Sheikh Naji and that they were holding him. They said
there was no ransom and that they were not interested in
money. They wanted the family's "political support" for
AQIZ. (NOTE: The Ajbarah Al Jabouri family is Salah ad
Din's most politically and tribally well-connected family.
The Al Jabouri tribe is the leading tribe in Salah ad Din,
and it has actively sought to establish political alliances
with other tribes throughout the province. Notable members
include Sheikh Naji who is head of the SaD Sheikhs Council,
younger brother SaD Deputy Governor Abdullah who is the
most powerful political figure in the province, and younger
brother COL Jassim who is Director of the National Security
Affairs' provincial office. END NOTE.) According to the
PRT contact, the Ajbarah family said they would kill 15
known AQIZ Iraqi associates if harm came to Sheikh Naji,
who spoke out against AQIZ operations in Iraq in a mid-
December interview on Al Jazeera pan Arab news station.
 
¶4. (S) In addition to Sheikh Naji's kidnapping, several
other provincial government officials, many of whom are
actively engaging in the political process and who are
largely pro-Coalition Forces, have received threats or been
kidnapped.
 
-------------------------
Shift in AQIZ's Targeting
-------------------------
 
¶5. (S) Targeting provincial government and tribal officials
represents a significant shift in AQIZ's targeting in the
province. Previously, AQIZ principally targeted the
Coalition Forces (CF), the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and
the Shia in Balad. To build support in SaD's Sunni
communities, AQIZ had initially attempted to cooperate with
local tribal and political authorities. Sheikh Naji's
kidnapping appears to be a decisive departure from this
engagement policy, though AQIZ still conducts outreach
campaigns in communities at the village level.
 
BAGHDAD 00000220 002 OF 002
 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------
The Islamic State of Iraq Demands Political Support
--------------------------------------------- ------
 
¶6. (S/NF) The change seems to have begun after the October
15, 2006 declaration of the "Islamic State of Iraq" (ISI)
by the AQIZ-affiliated Mujahidin Sharia Council (MSC).
AQIZ's demand for political support from the Ajbarah al
Jabouri tribe appears to be an attempt to co-opt provincial
government and tribal officials into legitimizing their
establishment of an Islamic state. Additionally,
kidnapping Sheikh Naji, the province's highest tribal
authority, demonstrates intimidation-based command and
control tactics to the rest of the province's traditional
and government officials, likely in the hopes that if
successful, other provincial leaders will fall in line
behind the Ajbarah al Jabouri's.
 
¶7. (S) At the same time, AQIZ has been working to
legitimize their role on the community level. "Claims
boxes" have been placed throughout the AQIZ stronghold of
Duluyiah, where citizens write in problems and concerns so
AQIZ can address them. AQIZ efforts to foment sectarian
violence in the southern portion of the province near the
Shia enclave of Balad have also resulted in some Sunni
communities becoming more open to an AQIZ presence in order
to protect residents from a (largely illusory) perceived
threat of growing Shia militias.
 
-------------------------
AQIZ Alone in the Sandbox
-------------------------
 
¶8. (S) Other reporting indicates the gap between AQIZ and
Sunni insurgent organizations may be widening, with
previous marriages of convenience breaking down in
recognition of the two very different end states desired.
Some previously unaligned Sunni insurgent groups have also
agreed to work together in order to diminish the role of
AQIZ and prevent establishment of a true Islamic State.
 
-------
Comment
-------
 
¶9. (S) AQIZ's entrance into the provincial political arena
in Salah ad Din appears to be maladroit and may prove to be
a serious misstep. AQIZ's decision to target legitimate
government officials in order to undermine their
effectiveness, eliminate competitors, and co-opt support
for the AQIZ-proposed end state makes sense. And
kidnapping Sheikh Naji and politically manipulating the
Ajbarah al Jabouri tribe seems like a natural entree in to
the province's political and tribal structures. However,
the Ajbarah al Jabouri tribe is formidable, and it has the
potential to turn large portions of the province's
population against AQIZ, especially in light of other
insurgent groups' recent realization that AQIZ promotes a
very different end state than the secular insurgents are
pursuing.
 
¶10. (S) While no single narrative explains the relationship
between legitimate provincial institutions, AQIZ, and Sunni
insurgent organizations, it does appear that AQIZ's push
for an extremist end state and its use of terror tactics
are isolating it from some legitimate Iraqi institutions
and insurgent groups. AQIZ will continue efforts to launch
attacks on the CF and to thwart USG engagement with the
provincial leadership. It remains to be seen how this
episode will affect the provincial government?s current
positive cooperation with CF and the average citizen?s view
of and support for the provincial government and its
leaders. END COMMENT.
 
¶11. (U) For additional reporting from PRT Tikrit, Salah ad
Din, please see our SIPRNET Reporting Blog:
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Tikrit.
KHALILZAD