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Al Qaida leader's diary reveals organization's decline

By William Selby Seaman, Armed Forces Press Service

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The diary found by U.S. troops on patrol contained records about man power, operations, weapons and finances, and also showed that al Qaida is hurting badly in the belts of Baghdad.
The diary found by U.S. troops on patrol contained records about manpower, operations, weapons and finances, and also showed that al Qaida is hurting badly in the belts of Baghdad.

Feb. 14, 2008 — BAGHDAD (Feb. 10, 2008) — U.S. troops found a diary belonging to an al Qaida in Iraq leader that has Coalition forces believing the terrorist organization is “on its heels,” a senior military official in Baghdad said Tuesday.

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team captured a diary Nov. 3, 2007, belonging to Abu Tariq, an al Qaida emir in control of five battalions within two sectors, U.S. Air Force Col. Donald J. Bacon, a Multi-National Force - Iraq spokesman, told online journalists and bloggers during a conference call.

Soldiers found the diary during a patrol about 15 kilometers south of Balad. Bacon said the 16-page diary contains records about manpower, operations, weapons, and finances, and it shows that al Qaida is hurting badly in the belts around Baghdad.

“There were 600 al-Qaida members in this sector, now there (are) 20 or less,” said Bacon, quoting the diary.

In the diary, Tariq describes each battalion’s number decline and goes on to describe the fourth battalion as “scoundrels, sectarians and nonbelievers.” Tariq attributes his terrorist organization’s decline in large part to groups of Concerned Local Citizens (CLC), who are also known as the "Sons of Iraq."

Many high-ranking al Qaida members, including Osama Bin Laden, have spoken out about the negative impact that the CLC groups have had on their organization. As a result, the CLC are being attacked more frequently by the terrorists, Bacon said.

Nevertheless, Bacon said the numbers of CLC are growing, which indicates that they are less afraid of al-Qaida.

“Right now there (are) approximately 77,500 CLC with 135 different initiatives, and more and more are being hired,” Bacon said.

Bacon said he believes the diary is also in part a will of sorts, in case anything was to happen to Tariq.

“He wanted to keep a clear record,” Bacon said.

Bacon said he believes the diary is indicative of some other areas in Iraq but not all of Iraq. He cautioned that al Qaida is still a dangerous enemy.

“We still believe they are our number one threat,” Bacon said.

“There is a 90 percent decline of violence in Anbar but we are still fighting them in Diyala,” he added. “They still have the capacity and the will but we have the momentum.”

Bacon noted, however, that “overall levels of violence in Iraq are down, and we are seeing positive trends.”