The Iraqi parliament's security and defence committee is calling for the swift launch of an "ideological warfare" against al-Qaeda to support the war that Iraqi forces are waging against the organisation.
Iraqi officials said on Monday (September 10th) that the call is timely, as al-Qaeda seeks to rebuild its armed cells after many of its strongholds were wiped out by Iraqi forces.
Aifan al-Essawi, secretary of the parliamentary committee, told Mawtani the call was made during a discussion held by committee members and a number of Iraqi security commanders about the country's latest security breaches, for which al-Qaeda had claimed responsibility.
"The committee proposed that the government should develop a mechanism to implement an ideological warfare, which we believe is just as effective and important as a real military war against this harmful body in our society," he said.
"The parliament has urged the government to take speedy measures to begin the project -- with help from religious leaders of various faiths and sects, intellectuals, authors, writers and journalists -- to unmask the truth about this organisation, refute its arguments and isolate it from the rest of society as a cancerous, contagious disease," al-Essawi said.
Interior Ministry Undersecretary Adnan al-Asadi told Mawtani that ideological warfare "would greatly help security forces in their war against al-Qaeda, especially in what pertains to information co-operation between citizens and the police".
"The intelligence efforts of our security forces would not succeed fully without help from Iraqi citizens, and without familiarising them with the crimes of the terrorists," he said.
"Refuting the pretexts of terrorists, who target innocents, would convince people to pick up the telephone and inform security forces about terrorists hiding in their neighbourhoods," al-Asadi said.
Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Ghafoor al-Samarrae, head of the Sunni Endowment office in Iraq, told Mawtani that "Islam, which emphasises that killing one person is like killing all people, and which banned cutting down trees and inflicting harm on animals, could not represent these [actions] in any way imaginable."
"Thousands of mosques in Iraq are ready to co-operate to fight al-Qaeda, although [religious leaders] have never stopped exposing their methods, warning against them, and calling to fight them and discard extremism, since many years ago," he said.
"Religious leaders are ready to step up their efforts and mobilise public opinion against al-Qaeda, which does not represent any of us," he said.
Culture Ministry Undersecretary Fawzi al-Atroushi told Mawtani, "The ministry will support writers and intellectuals by printing their books and works documenting terrorism and the catastrophes it inflicted on Iraqis, thus exposing terrorism's ugly face."
He said the ministry will take charge of printing and distributing such books to the public.
"Any such effort would be a holy war against the killers and criminals that are shedding Iraqi blood," he said.
Alaa Jabara, 42, who works as a taxi driver in Fallujah, welcomed the parliament's call.
"[Al-Qaeda] are masters in the art of conversation, slogans and impassioned speeches, and can make many issues seem ambiguous for us, especially through their printed leaflets, which they throw in the streets sporadically," he told Mawtani.
A campaign of ideological warfare would thus help "the naïve, the uneducated and those who are not well-informed about their own religion, to recognise al-Qaeda and the terrorists as they really are, and hence fortify themselves against [their message]", Jabara said.