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May 11, 2006

The Zarqawi Bloopers: Leaving It To The Professionals


The BAG has been wondering about the marketing strategy behind the Zarqawi outtakes -- especially with the footage now branded the "Zarqawi Blooper Video."  Iraq seemed the likely audience for the material -- especially, those potential terrorist recruits.  Because it was pitched primarily to U.S. media, however, it became equally positioned for domestic consumption.

As presented by Multinational Forces Major General Rick Lynch, basically four charges are drawn from the outtakes:

1.)  Zarqawi can hardly operate a weapon without help.


2.) "The evil one's" associates don't know enough to avoid grabbing the hot end of a gun and burning themselves.



3.)  The enemy leader rides around in a white pickup.  (Just above.)

4.) Zarqawi wears New Balance sneakers under his black uniform.


But, let's think about these points a bit.

If your goal is to shame this guy before the folks back home, that's one thing.  But if you're also pitching Peoria that Zarqawi is an amateur, where does that get you?  If you convince people AZ and his cohorts are essentially lame, won't people wonder why we are making such a big deal out of him -- and why he's still on the lam?  On the other hand, if he isn't so incompetent  (who says the CEO of Caterpillar should be able to operate a tractor, anyway?), why turn him into Groucho for the folks at home?

And just a little friendly blogospheric feedback to the Major General:

You make an innuendo out of Zarqawi's use of a white pick-up.  But don't outlaw terrorists all ride around in pick-ups these days?  So, what's the issue?  Is it the color?  You were expected a camel, maybe?

And then, you bust Zarqawi for wearing fancy Western tennis shoes.  If you go back and look, however, you'll see the "Z-man" is clearly sporting the tennies in his own video, too.


Anyway, I don't get #3 and #4.  I thought you guys stopped attending "stereotype school." 

But you know what confuses The BAG even more, though?

If you watch the DOD briefing, you do your soldierly best with this assignment.  You even show a wry home-spun sarcasm.  But, if your intention here was true parody, why didn't you ship this material straight to fake news, and let some real professionals take care of it?


Zarqawi Blooper Video (YourTube) here
Full Pentagon briefing with Zarkawi outtakes (Google Video)
Original Zarqawi video (

(images: Department of Defense video.  May 4, 2006.  Photomontage by BAGnewsNotes.)


The only reason this bloopers reel got out was because Zarqawi has been declared "takfir" by some imam or other. Takfir means a person who has knowingly abandoned Islam, gone from a Believer to a Non-Believer. It's a feast on the Z man's bones by all sides going on here. A good site to get perspective on what's happening now is at

Actually, I've tried to ignore this chain of news, because it seems his relevance to anything is somehow being made to disappear, for ugly reasons on every side.


My first reaction to Zarqawi's video was that he loked fairly normal and healthy, as opposed to that sort of crazed lunatic look he seemed to have before.

Anyway, since I don't know anything about that particular weapon, the fact that he has a problem with it might be embarassing, except that I read some quotes from American military experts saying that it wasn't really, because it's not their weapon (apparently they got it from American soldiers) and it takes quite a bit of training to reach a basic level of competence. (See ) Maybe if we saw Donald Runmsfeld handling it, we could compare...

I don't get the point about the white pick-up either. Those little white pickups are very popular in this area; outside of the cities, they're the most common vehicles you see, used to transport sheep and feed for the animals, etc., and just to get around in. So it would make perfect sense - and be most inconspicuous - for him to drive around in one. The Taliban were known for using them, too, though - are they trying to make that connection? But maybe it's also significant that he feels safe driving around in one, and not in an armored vehicle.

I also don't get the point about the shoes. What's he supposed to wear? And even if they're an American brand, I'm guessing they're made in China, so what's the point? And in this area, there's a good chance that they're fakes anyway; I always see people wearing sneakers that have the names "adidas" or "Nike", except that one letter is changed, so that you have to look hard to realize that that's not what they actually say. Of course, they're from China, too. And so are the fakes that really do have the right logos.

The Bag: "If you convince people AZ and his cohorts are essentially lame, won't people wonder why we are making such a big deal out of him -- and why he's still on the lam?"

Very good point...

By the way, didn't they used to say Zarqawi had a wooden leg or something?

itwasntme, that post mentions that a sheikh from Qom declared Zarqawi to be a nonbeliever. Qom is a major Shia religious center, so if that's where the sheikh is from, it's meaningless. The Shia already hate him, and a Shia opinion would mean nothing to the Sunnis. (Although one commenter there says he wasn't from Qom, but I can't get to the link to see.)

The whole episode smacks of increased desparation and a lack of policy and coordination on the side of the occupationists. Its like Z is making the news and they're reacting to him. I mean, think about it. This is the best thing they could come up with?

". . . Zarqawi can hardly operate a weapon . . ," and neither can Dick Cheney. The administration and the Pentagon are shooting themselves in the foot (excuse the pun) with this lame video. Is this all they can come up with? A white pickup truck? New Balance shoes? We have a president who's choked on a pretzel and fallen off a Segway.

Thanks ummabdulla for the insight. I still think it wouldn't have gotten out unless there are plots within plots, for what puprpose, or by whom I couldn't tell you.

I'll use a movie reference here: "C'mon Jake, let's go. It's Chinatown..."

Meaning that nobody can figure it out.

Seems another iteration of Change The Subject. Pay no attention to the sudden resignations of CIA top management. Don't ponder the wisdom of extending tax breaks while re-raising the national debt ceiling. There's a white pickup somewhere in the desert. And white shoes.

actually, Jon Stewart did look at these clips, but his reaction wasn't "hah hah!" but rather "if this guy is so lame, why did we have such a hard time catching him?!"


isn`t he supposed to be dead? isn`t he supposed to have one leg? didn`t we have a chance to kill him several times before the war and during the war? last i heard he jumped from truck rolled underneath it and ran to a village where he wasn`t found...
i guess we are supposed to believe the iraqi`s are not clever enough to make "you`ve been punk`d" videos....

Why try to make a fool out of Zarqawi? To setup for US withdrawal. If the big, bad Zarqawi looks incompetent, then obviously the Iraqis can take care of him on their own, and the US doesn't need to be wasting its time and money over there any more.

Another interpretation is that the US is trying to help the Sunnis see what a fool he is, and therefore discourage them from following him.

I watched intently for 47 minutes and 44 seconds as MG. Rick Lynch gave his briefing on Iraq and Zarqawi's latest adventures. After reviewing various literary sources I have to conclude that it was one of the shorter versions but the best unrehearsed performance of Don Quixote in over 400 years. He was ably assisted by one or more Sancho Panza's from the press galley.

Obviously the Major General shares this thought,
"In me the need to talk is a primary impulse, and I can't help saying right off what comes to my tongue".-Don Quixote

Press Corp "They say one madman makes a hundred.."- Sancho

With all due respect to the 'Groucho'

The weapon Zarqawi is firng is an american M249 SAW for anyone who wants to know.

The curious thing in the video, as far as weapons are conrcerned is not when he is firing a SAW (so the weapon was jammed, big deal) is the M-16A3 with the full scopes shown when he sitting down with his lieutenants talking strategy. Where did he get that weapon? And are the insurgents trading their AKs for M-16s?

As for the shifting sands underneath Zarqawi's image, its the same strategy the Republicans use for everything. First, hype up the subject to untolerable hysteria, then dismiss it out of hand or even ridicule it. The message is "only care what we say, when we say it or how we say it."

The goal is nothing short of this:

Am I shocked about the tennis sneakers? ... about the not so good handling of the weapons? about the white pickup truck....?
No, I do not care, but I do care about the spy agency NSA and their massive collection of the phone numbers' data of Americans' phone calls...
I do believe, that this is not all I should worry about. I worry that the USA has completely corrupted the rest of the world in this invasive path to spy on people...How much database has NSA collected from other friendly governments in the name of "security" of USA and of the other countries?
Manipulations of the media, spying, lying, those are more serious issues for the security everywhere in the world! US is the threat!

Well, let's see here. First you set up a straw man and endow him with magical powers and mystery. You let that image rest with your target audience for a while, thru, ummmm, three captures and/or killings. But maybe he's survived. Maybe not. Then you remove said straw man's clothes and show......straw. Just what does that prove to the true blue (oops) red Bush believer? That Bush is more powerful than dress-up straw man? It's hard for me to get my brain inside the wingnuts heads, but perhaps if they really do feel terror at these guys, then ridiculing them and laughing at them would ease that terror. But given Bush&co past tactics of fear and terror, I don't know what that would get THEM. Perhaps they have tired of toying with Zarqawi and want a more menacing villain? Heavens forefend they should zero in on Bushbuddy bin Laden.

However, being a skeptic, and knowing that all the intel agencies have now been thoroughly compromised and politicized, I don't believe any of this "captured video" stuff. We know they can program voices to sound like whomever they choose. Finding impersonators for bin Laden or Zarqawi should be a snap. In fact, bin Laden looks remarkably like the christian Jesus as usually portrayed......just remove the turban and replace it with the crown of thorns. So when the CIA or whatever says this is verified as the real video of.........I just say to myself: yeah, yeah.

The third thing to consider is that this propaganda could be made for the foreign audience, to discredit him in the Arab countries. itwasntme's reference to abuaardvark is interesting because that site leaves open the question of whether the takfir is real or not. Thus leaving open the question of whether it is propaganda from you-know-who.

The only question left is where is Kaiser Soze?

And haven't we all noticed that these videos or tapes appear whenever Bush&co needs a distraction, or there is an election coming up?

Maybe The Z Man is getting paid by Halliburton to make these tapes.

I just watched the "blooper" video and the briefing by Major General Rick Lynch. There's much less to it than I was expecting.

He's shooting the weapon, it jams, and a guy steps in an un-jams it. From all the hype, I'd expected Zarqawi to get all flustered and look like an idiot, not knowing what to do and yelling for someone to help, evryone running around like the Keystone Cops...

Also, since we often mention the background logos that Bush has in back of him when he makes a speech, I couldn't help but notice that the background for this entire presentation was the American flag on one side, and the Iraqi flag - with a big "Allahu akbar" - on the other side. Is that the message of the day?

It's true, this could be a psyops operation.

Or, it could be that some of the people in the Pentagon who have actually been in battle noticed that Zarqawi didn't posses the fundamental understanding that a person would gain from those experiences.

Also, consider you sent a threatening video to a government, and then left outtakes that showed you wearing distinctive shoes for the region, as well as what kind of vehicle you were using?

A terrorist mastermind? Or a second-rate phony?

Zarqawi is dead.

He also had only one leg.

The guy in the video is part of a psyops operation.

"Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a "Zarqawi Legend""

Is "Zarqawi" Another Black-Op?

...if your intention here was true parody, why didn't you ship this material straight to fake news, and let some real professionals take care of it?

As acm points out, above, The Daily Show did indeed feature the blooper reel -- but not as the object of humor. It was the Pentagon briefing itself that was held up for derision. I believe Jon Stewart said, "That's it?" or words to that effect.

A better psy-op would've been to re-edit the original Zarqawi video to include the bloopers and somehow hack into the terror websites and perform a switcheroo.

Looks like el paso in the background to me...

There are people in Iraq who still don't think Zarqawi exists. He was nothing until the propaganda machine kicked in... merely a mask... and ANYBODY can wear a mask.

I've seen more authentic representations of medieval warfare from SCA knights answering the cattle call in Hollywood, than most of these propaganda videos purporting to show contemporary warfare in Iraq today. The Rendon Group and the Lincoln Group are getting fat contracts for shoddy work... but that isn't news. Believing the propaganda isn't news, either.

as i recall, stewart also did a side-by-side photo comparison ...

you might also want to read this:

When Seeing and Hearing Isn't Believing
By William M. Arkin
Special to
Monday, Feb. 1, 1999

...Most Americans were introduced to the tricks of the digital age in the movie Forrest Gump, when the character played by Tom Hanks appeared to shake hands with President Kennedy.
For Hollywood, it is special effects. For covert operators in the U.S. military and intelligence agencies, it is a weapon of the future.

"Once you can take any kind of information and reduce it into ones and zeros, you can do some pretty interesting things," says Daniel T. Kuehl, chairman of the Information Operations department of the National Defense University in Washington, the military's school for information warfare.
Digital morphing — voice, video, and photo — has come of age, available for use in psychological perations. PSYOPS, as the military calls it, seek to exploit human vulnerabilities in enemy governments, militaries and populations to pursue national and battlefield objectives.

To some, PSYOPS is a backwater military discipline of leaflet dropping and radio propaganda. To a growing group of information war technologists, it is the nexus of fantasy and reality. Being able to manufacture convincing audio or video, they say, might be the difference in a successful military operation or coup.

My thoughts are a little bleak: I think Z. was showing off captured american weapons (S.A.W. and M16)for the faithful to see--captured, perhaps, from dead Americans.
There is no possible way the American General didn't know these were American weapons. It seemed to me that this was just a lamely concocted effort on the Army's part to discredit Z.
If I am correct, score "1" for Z.s propaganda and score "0" for the Army's.
It's all sad and pathetic...

"If I am correct, score "1" for Z.s propaganda and score "0" for the Army's.
It's all sad and pathetic..."

Zarqawi has been dead for years. This (U.S.) psychological operation was designed to show Americans, Iraqis, and everyone else:

1) Jihadis are fools

2) Americans are superior

3) Iraq is in danger from "foreign fighters" and their "Caliphate empire" dreams, so that America cannot leave Iraq

The only pretext the American regime has for staying in Iraq is that they are somehow battling "terror." This is a long term psychological war which needs constant reinforcement to keep any shred of apparent legitimacy.

If it was a psy-op, shouldn't they have made it more convincing?

"The BAG has been wondering about the marketing strategy behind the Zarqawi outtakes -- especially with the footage now branded the 'Zarqawi Blooper Video.' . . . Because it was pitched primarily to U.S. media, however, it became equally positioned for domestic consumption."

So now we know, almost *exactly* 4 weeks later, that Zarqawi's face was put before the American public so that he could be definitively "killed" on June 8, 2006. What this is supposed to accomplish is to make Americans believe, especially in the midst of Haditha and upcoming Congressional election ads, that there really is a "focus" to the War in Iraq, that there really is "progress" being made in the War on Terror, that the War in Iraq is not spinning out of control as the pessimistic, unpatriotic Left (and John Murtha) would have us believe. That's why the blooper video doesn't need to be convincing, as ummabdulla wonders, because it's merely subliminal "movie trailer" for the manipulative "feature film" of Z-man's death that opened in American news theaters the morning of June 8, 2006. Read all about the glorious precision of Task Force 145:

Before I became completely sickened by NPR's "special" reporting, I listened with some amazement as it followed in hypnotic lockstep, mentioning a possible "successor" (get ready, everyone), "Jordan" (more on Jordan later, the speaker had to be interrupted before he could finish his thought), and sampling Bush saying *U.S.* (not Coalition or Iraqi) troops "delivered justice," among other things, one of which was a telephone interview with Bill Frist (why?), who said we should "expect more violence," and that a "bill" will be introduced in Congress by tomorrow to designate "more funding" for the War in Iraq to the tune of $67 billion. Frist already has posted a statement about Zarqawi's death on his website (although no mention of the $67 billion yet):

Expect more violence.

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