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July 18, 2005

Iraq, terrorist factory

Hardly a revelation, but still worth highlighting:

[An] Israeli analysis of 154 foreign fighters compiled by a leading terrorism researcher found that despite the presence of some senior Al Qaeda operatives who are organizing the volunteers, “the vast majority of [non-Iraqi] Arabs killed in Iraq have never taken part in any terrorist activity prior to their arrival in Iraq.”
“Only a few were involved in past Islamic insurgencies in Afghanistan, Bosnia, or Chechnya,” the Israeli study says. Out of the 154 fighters analyzed, only a handful had past associations with terrorism, including six who had fathers who fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, said the report, compiled by the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel.
American intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, and terrorism specialists paint a similar portrait of the suicide bombers wreaking havoc in Iraq: Prior to the Iraq war, they were not Islamic extremists seeking to attack the United States, as Al Qaeda did four years ago, but are part of a new generation of terrorists responding to calls to defend their fellow Muslims from “crusaders” and “infidels.”
“The president is right that Iraq is a main front in the war on terrorism, but this is a front we created,” said Peter Bergen, a terrorism specialist at the nonpartisan New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.
… Other fighters, who are coming to Iraq from across the Middle East and North Africa, are older, in their late 20s or 30s, and have families, according to the two investigations. “The vast majority of them had nothing to do with Al Qaeda before Sept. 11th and have nothing to do with Al Qaeda today,” said Reuven Paz, author of the Israeli study. “I am not sure the American public is really aware of the enormous influence of the war in Iraq, not just on Islamists but the entire Arab world.”

The article also cites a Saudi study that came to much the same conclusion.

Posted by Stephen at 12:21 PM in Terrorism | War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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