July 31, 2005
Iraq and Al Qaeda
Terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna on how Bush’s war in Iraq has increased Al Qaeda’s global reach and capabilities:
“The epicentre of international terrorism... has shifted from Afghanistan in Asia to the Middle East, that is to Iraq,” Gunaratna, regarded as one of the world’s authorities on Al-Qaeda, told a financial security conference [in Singapore].
“Like Afghanistan produced the last generation of terrorists, Iraq will produce the next generation.”
… Gunaratna, who is the head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Singapore’s Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, said Islamic militants from more than 30 nations had fought in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003.
He said they would eventually return to their homelands or elsewhere around the world equipped with even more dangerous skills than Islamic militants who were in Afghanistan because the new generation had hands-on training in urban terrorism.
“When they come back, they will have certain capabilities, certain knowledge and the threat of violence will spread,” he told delegates at the Asia-Pacific Financial Crime conference. “So the US invasion and occupation of Iraq has not reduced the threat of terrorism in any way.”
Gunaratna went on to describe what has happened in Iraq as “the most significant development we have seen in the past three years” in global terrorism.
All of which is a pretty damning assessment of Bush’s Iraq adventure from one of the world’s leading authorities on Al Qaeda.
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