Gateway Pundit goes off on one about a report in McClatchy Newspapers about Al Qaida’s operations in Iraq. The reporting is quite interesting, but also rather clumsy, especially in the passage the Pundit takes offense at:
…As recently as last July, Bush tried to tie al Qaida to the ongoing violence in Iraq. “The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children, many of whom are Muslims,” he said.
The rest of the piece pretty much makes the point that Al Qaida wasn’t operating in Iraq before the war. That’s only technically true; the two sides did meet on several occasions to discuss cooperation, though it’s not clear whether their shared aims or natural antipathy would have won out. But in any case the article is making a reasonable point until it hits the above quote, where it apparently just goes nuts.
Here’s the thing, though. Al Qaida in Iraq (‘AQI’) is not the same as Al Qaida. AQI was created as a direct result of the American invasion of Iraq by people not blind to the value of the Al Qaida ‘brand’. That decision appears to have been one-sided; AQI decided that they were Al Qaida first, and negotiated with the Al Qaida leadership after. In fact to this day it’s not clear how much of a link there is between the two organizations. Certainly they have (some) shared goals, and shared sympathies. But to say that they are the same entity is a case that can be made, but for now at least not proven.
So the McClatchy piece, or at least this paragraph, is startlingly clumsy, and quite possibly wrong. It is not, however, nuts.