Thursday, November 11, 2004

Falluja and Propaganda

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is one of the few journalists reporting well from inside Falluja . His 11 Nov Guardian article “The only place I am going from here is heaven” is remarkable (see also his photos and previous articles here and here).

Abdul-Ahad interviews a jihadi from Yemen who left his wife and five children behind to fight in Iraq, driven – he says – by the scandal of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse.

Is the propaganda value of Abu Ghraib to jihadism a concern if one thinks who think the US-led war in Iraq is completely right? Can it be seen as a way of attracting terrorists to the magnet of Iraq so that they won’t make a bother elsewhere?

Will the appointment of Alberto Gonzales as the new US Attorney General have consequences, unintended or otherwise, that will be used for jihadist propoganda?

On 25 Jan 2002, the New York Times reports, Mr. Gonzales wrote a memorandum to President Bush in which he supported the Justice Department's position that suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban members did not need to be treated according to rules of the Geneva Conventions, which govern treatment of prisoners of war.

"The nature of the new war places a high premium on other factors such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians," his memo said.

Mr. Gonzales went on to say that the war against terrorism, "in my judgment renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners."

The central question remains Donald Rumsfeld's: "Are we killing or capturing more terrorists than we are recruiting"?

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