Recently we were treated to almost simultaneous releases of videotapes from two of the world's most wanted men - Abu Mus'ab Az-Zarqawi and Usamah Bin Ladin.
Bin Ladin's tape was strange - no mention of Iraq or Az-Zarqawi. I would guess that he is a bit perturbed at being upstaged by someone who is actually appearing to fight the Americans while he himself is holed up in a cave and can't get much accomplished. That's how I would define "containment."
Then Az-Zarqawi sends out a videotape in which he appears - a first for him. In addition to the verbal declaration of allegiance to Usamah, there are three things that are symbolic in the frame above - and these guys are big on symbolism:
- He is seen with an AKSU-74, the exact same weapon Bin Ladin is seen with in his videos. The new "preferred weapon of your enemies?
- The new logo and title Shura Al-Mujahdin - the Mujahidin Council. This is the new name of the umbrella insurgent organization in Iraq that was announced about three weeks ago. I can't make out the script on the flag - maybe someone with a better monitor can. See also my earlier piece: Az-Zarqawi Demoted by Al-Qa'idah?
- He is wearing a black headdress - to the Shi'a this would be insulting, especially to Muqtada As-Sadr. The black headgear is reserved for direct descendants of the Prophet. As-Sadr is; Az-Zarqawi is not.
I had to laugh at Colonel Dave Hunt's remarks - Dave is a fellow military analyst but at Fox News. He referred to As-Sadr as "that little fat guy who should be dead." I agree - I have no idea why this guy ever saw New Years Day 2004.