Former Prime Minister Allawi said on July 10, 2005, "We are practically in stage one of a civil war as we speak." Now, the Times (London) reports today what US News outlets are wary to conclude: far from being in its "last throes," the homegrown "insurgency" and the foreign terrorists are uniting under the "al-Qaeda" banner and are transforming themsleves into a Sunni army bent on igniting a religious civil war in Iraq. Here's an excerpt.
A terrorist mastermind has united insurgent groups in Baghdad to target the Iraqi Shia Muslim community with the aim of bringing civil war to Iraq, The Times has learnt. According to US military intelligence sources, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi... now commands thousands of fighters from various rival groups and is set to order further waves of bombings.
“The al-Qaeda organisation in Mesopotamia is declaring all-out war on the Rafidha [a pejorative term for Shias], wherever they are in Iraq,” said the 38-year-old in an audio message released on an Islamic website...
“We have got reason to believe that al-Zarqawi has now been given tactical command in the city over groups that have had to merge under him for the sake of survival,” an American intelligence officer in Baghdad told The Times yesterday.
An intelligence summary, citing the conglomeration of insurgent groups under the al-Qaeda banner to be the result of rebel turf wars, money, weaponry and fear, concluded that of the estimated 16,000 Sunni Muslim insurgents, 6,700 were hardcore Islamic fundamentalists who were now supplemented by a possible further 4,000 members after an amalgamation with Jaysh Muhammad, previously an insurgent group loyal to the former Baathist regime.
--Sept. 15, 2005, "Terrorists Unite to Plot Iraqi Civil War", Anthony Loyd, in Baghdad. (Emphasis added)
Meanwhile, hundreds are killed by a dozen coordinated bombs in Baghdad, and some 10,000 US and Iraqi troops were engaged yesterday in what The Times called, "a massive offensive to recapture the ethnically divided town [Tal Afar] from Sunni insurgents."
Sixteen thousand under al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda. A religious war in Iraq. Are these worst-case nightmares soon to be the fruits of Bush's policy in Iraq? Is it truly coming to pass? If you pray for anything in Iraq, pray that this tactical union under Al-Qaeda shall soon fall apart. For this is the most terrifying article I have read on the situation Iraq since the war began.