At times, the Iraqis and foreign Muslim militants seem to be competing.
Media reports and Web statements have speculated that a Saudi carried out the December 21 suicide bombing of a U.S. mess tent in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that killed 22 people.
But Ansar al-Sunnah, the homegrown group that took responsibility for that deadliest of attacks on a U.S. target in Iraq, named the bomber as Abu Omar of Mosul, a nom de guerre that pointedly claims him as an Iraqi.
Earlier this month, a posting on Ansar al-Sunnah’s Web site told foreign militants to stop coming. The group, which defines itself as both nationalist and Islamic, said it needed money, not more recruits.
“We have concrete information that a sharp division is now broiling between” Iraqis waging a nationalist war and foreign Arabs spurred by militant Islam, said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi government’s national security adviser. “They are more divided than ever.”
“Bin Laden’s problem is that he is far away from reality, he is a daydreamer. He is even blind,” said Shadi Abdel Aziz, a Cairo University professor and author of “Continuity and Change in bin Laden’s Thought.”
Abdel Aziz said bin Laden’s key mistake is to ignore that “people always put their national and personal interests first.”
“In this part of the world people have several identities, Islam is only one of them and it does not necessarily come first,” he said.
Bin Laden’s problem in Iraq seems similar to what he faced in Afghanistan after the defeat of Soviet troops. While bin Laden wanted to follow up with a worldwide war on those he saw as Islam’s enemies, some of the warlords who became Afghanistan’s new rulers wanted the Arab fighters out.
That’s right, folks, we are not “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here”. Instead, the illegal invasion of Iraq created an insurgency composed largely of nationalist forces that seek to throw us out of their country. We aren’t fighting al Qaeda, we’re fighting Iraqis.