2005 June 30 Thursday
Most Iraq Suicide Bombers From Saudi Arabia

George W. Bush repeatedly and dishonestly tries to link the invason of Iraq to the 9/11 attack and the terrorist threat to the United States. With this in mind it is worth taking a look at the suicide bombers in Iraq. Those suicide bombers serve as a useful reminder of where the real terrorist threat emanates from. A few nights ago C-SPAN broadcast hearings from Washington DC by an organization that is supposed to be the successor to the 9/11 Commission. Former Senators Sam Nunn and Bob Kerrey are among the notables in this organization (whose title escapes me). Well, on one of the discussion panels Juliette Kayyam of the Harvard JFK School of Government noted in passing that 40% of the suicide bombers in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia. This is in the ballpark with other sources that place Saudi suicide bomber participation at 50% and 60%.

In a paper published in March, Reuven Paz, an Israeli expert on terrorism, analyzed the lists of jihadi dead. He found 154 Arabs killed over the previous six months in Iraq, 61 percent of them from Saudi Arabia, with Syrians, Iraqis and Kuwaitis together accounting for another 25 percent. He also found that 70 percent of the suicide bombers named by the Web sites were Saudi. In three cases, Paz found two brothers who carried out suicide attacks. Many of the bombers were married, well educated and in their late twenties, according to postings.

"While incomplete," Paz wrote, the data suggest "the intensive involvement of Saudi volunteers for jihad in Iraq."

In a telephone interview, Paz said his list -- assembled from monitoring a dozen Islamic extremist Web forums -- now had more than 200 names. "Many are students or from wealthy families -- the same sociological characteristics as the Sept. 11 hijackers," he said.

These people who are blowing up American soldiers and Iraqis never would have managed to get to the United States to blow up Americans.

"This is not al Qaeda's first team," said Hammes of the National Defense University. "These are the scrubs who could never get us in the States."

Another researcher estimates Saudis make up over 50% of suicide bombers.

Evan F. Kohlmann, a researcher who monitors Islamic extremist Web sites, has compiled a list of more than 235 names of Iraqi dead gleaned from the Internet since last summer, with more than 50 percent on his tally from Saudi Arabia as well.

Another list puts Saudis at 44% and puts Iraqis at less than 15% of suicide bombers in Iraq.

Saudis were also the leading group on this list, representing 44 percent, followed by Syrians and Iraqis at less than 15 percent each.

Think about that. The Iraqis are all already in Iraq and yet make up less than 15% of the suicide bombers while the Saudis make up about half. Iraq has a population of 26 million. Saudi Arabia also has a population of 26 million. Obviously Iraqis are far less interested in a world religious jihad against Americans than the Saudis are. Now, one could explalin this disparity by pointing out that only about 20% of Iraqis are Sunni Arabs. So only about 5 million are going to fight for Sunni Arab supremacy or join in Sunni Arab jihads. But that still means that fewer Iraqis are interested in joining Al Qaeda or similar organizations that have global aspirations to jihad.

A Saudi who wants to do a suicide bombing against American forces has to travel to Syria, get hooked up with a jihad organization, and then sneak across the border. He probably has to get a passport first. He has to get the money to pay for an airplane ticket and make the trip. Iraqis, by contrast, are right there. Why are Iraqi Sunni Arabs more likely to operate as conventional guerrillas rather than as suicide bombers? Could it be that they simply want the Americans out and don't harbor global Islamic aspirations or martrydom aspirations?

Then there are the Saudis versus all the other Arab countries. Where are the Egyptians? Or Libyans? Suicide bombers in Iraq come from many countries. But the Saudis make up about half even though Egypt at 77 million has almost 3 times the population of Saudi Arabia. Libya has 5.7 miliion. Jordan also has 5.7 million. Morocco has 32 million. Why aren't Egypt, Libya, Jordan, and Morocco together accounting for far more of the suicide bombers than Saudi Arabia? Saudi Arabia is by far the biggest source of global Islamic Jihadists.

The conditions created by the American invasion of Iraq demonstrate once again (as if we didn't already know) that Saudi Arabia poses the biggest threat of terrorism against Americans. While the necons talk about Iraq, Syria, and Iran the elephant is standing in the room. The elephant isn't seen as much of a threat to Israel. That's a shame. If it was then the neocons would shift their attention more in the direction that matters to Americans.

The Iraqi Sunni Arabs are fighting Americans for two reasons:

  1. American troops are in Iraq and they do not want to be ruled by us.
  2. The Iraqi Shia Arabs are not going to fight the Sunnis to establish Shia supremacy because war is dangerous and Americans will do their fighting for them (and maybe the Shias are just not up to it).

If we leave then the Shias might get up the cojones to put down the Sunni Arab rebellion and to hunt down and kill all the foreign Sunni jihadists. Or the Shias might be a bunch of pussies and let the Sunnis once again lord over them. But as long as we stay all we are going to see is a constant reminder that A) a lot of Saudis want to blow us up, B) the Iraqi Sunni Arabs want us out, and C) the Shias do not care enough about having their own government to put their own lives at risk. I've already learned this lesson. Have you? If not, how many more Americans have to die or become injured for life before you learn?

Update: Another estimate puts the Iraqi contribution to suicide bombing at only 10%

Since 2003, less than 10 percent of more than 500 suicide attacks have been carried out by Iraqis, according to one defense official.

As much as 20% of the suicide bombers might be from Algeria.

Up to 20 percent of the bombers might be from Algeria, according to forensic investigations after attacks, senior U.S. military officials have said on condition they not be named for security reasons. Another 5 percent each might be from Morocco and Tunisia, the officials said.

The Sunnis are streaming in to Iraq to fight for their fellow Sunnis against the Shias according to former CIA officer Robert Baer.

Baer said Sunni Arabs who take carry out suicide attacks feel Shiites are attacking Sunnis in Iraq. ``They look at the war in Iraq as an attack on Sunni Islam, not Iraq, not Saddam,'' he said.

In interviews while visiting prisons, terror groups and government officials, he was told that there are so many suicide bombers coming out of the Persian Gulf states that the loose networks that deploy jihadist martyrs - many run through mosques - are turning away potential attackers.

He said the mentality is: ``They have taken what is ours and they will take more if we don't stop them.''

Think about the underlying feeling Sunni entitlement. The Sunnis are killing many more Shias than the other way around. Yet the Sunnis feel they are the ones being attacked.

When the US pulls out of Iraq will the Shias be able to make peace with the Sunnis? Will even more Sunnis flow in from other countries to fight for their Sunni brethren in Iraq?

Also, will the Sunni smuggling network scale up to take in all the Sunnis who want to go to Iraq to fight? Just how many more will volunteer if the smuggling routes expand to handle them?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 June 30 09:33 AM  Mideast Iraq

Raskolnikov said at June 30, 2005 2:28 PM:

Let's say for the sake of argument that all Americans who opposed the war in Iraq were to instantly drop dead. Does that mean that the remaining Americans should unanimously applaud Bush for his job on national security? NO WAY!!!! Even given the presmise that Iraq was a threat, Iraq is a drop in the bucket compared to Saudi Arabia. 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were born in Saudia Arabia (you might have seen the number as 8, but the other 7 were citizens of another country who were born in Saudi Arabia). Bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia. Most of the terrorist money comes from Saudi Arabia. Supposedly, the Saudi rulers are American allies, which is why President Bush kisses the Saudi princes when he meets them (no joke, there are photos of him doing so even since 9/11). Why doesn't Bush even talk about Saudi Arabia? What happened to "You're either with us or against us?" The Saudis are against us. President Bush, by being a devout Saudi ally, is also against us, EVEN GIVEN THE PREMISE that the Iraq war was the right thing to do. Read "House of Bush, House of Saud" (no, I am not an advertising agent for the book).

John S Bolton said at June 30, 2005 2:59 PM:

Saudis have money, leisure and a subhumanizing moslem faith; they are Moslem in a way that few other countries can match. There is no reality feedback for them; the oil money covers up for every failure. No visas should go to anyone from that country. Let Lebanon take their money and their terrorism.

rabid likudnik said at July 1, 2005 4:41 AM:

hmm, well, on the other hand, if global terrorism is seen as a saudi-centric phenomenon, and saudi arabia is seen as not overtly hostile to israel, then does this not disprove widely held notions that 9/11 happened 'because of israel'?

John Thacker said at July 1, 2005 6:44 AM:

Wait, I'm confused. 3/4ths of the 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia, and 50-60% of the suicide bombers in Iraq come from Saudi Arabia. Why exactly is this a reason that Iraq is NOT linked to 9/11? Seems that, rather than the alternative hypothesis that invading Iraq has caused Iraqis, who were safely oppressed by Hussein, to turn into suicide bombers, this supports the idea that the same Saudi fanatics who attacked on 9/11 are the ones attacking us in Iraq. So it is connected certainly now. Better there than here.

Furthermore, for all those upset about Saudi Arabia, realize that we had tons of troops in Saudi Arabia because of Saddam who are all out now, and realize that Saudi Arabia has been a strategic ally of the country, because of oil, for years. The foreign party establishment of both parties have been united on this, and no election would change it. Indeed, because of Realist concerns, the only way to confront the Saudis is to obviate the need to have them as a strategic ally. The only possible first step to doing so is to make them unnecessary. And that starts with removing Saddam, in order to remove a declared enemy in the region, to remove our troops from Saudi Arabia, and to further lessen our dependence on Saudi oil.

It's absurd to think that we could have done anything about Saudi Arabia without getting rid of Saddam. I'm all in favor of confronting Saudi Arabia, but the antiwar and anticonfrontation forces would have been even stronger, since confronting a nominal ally (and the major oil supplier) would have provided all the reasons that people argue against Iraq, only more so.

John Thacker said at July 1, 2005 6:48 AM:

The issue isn't Israel for the vast majority of policymakers. It's oil for some, and it's about not attacking or confronting an "ally," because being aggressive is bad, for others.

It's not as though actively confronting Saudi Arabia would have made Saddam an ally again. And attacking Saudi Arabia would have outraged the world community much, much more. (The idea of a unilateral embargo is completely ridiculous.)

Randall Parker said at July 1, 2005 9:39 AM:

Rabid Likudnik,

I have always argued that Osama Bin Laden placed US troops in Saudi Arabia way ahead of Israel's treatment of Palestinians on his list of grievances. You just have to go read his statements from the 1990s where he says why he's declaring war against the United States to see this is so.

OBL is a Saudi snob. He thinks people who live in the country that contains Mecca and Medina are more authentically Muslims and he's a snob about Arabs versus non-Arab Muslims. Arabs speak the language of the prophet. He also looks down on Shias of course. The Iranians couldn't be allies at an equal level with him because they are Shias and not Arabs.

I would argue the 9/11 attack happened because of Gulf War I. But Gulf War II happened in large part because of Israel.

Randall Parker said at July 1, 2005 9:53 AM:

John Thacker says,

Wait, I'm confused. 3/4ths of the 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia, and 50-60% of the suicide bombers in Iraq come from Saudi Arabia. Why exactly is this a reason that Iraq is NOT linked to 9/11?

John, you need to wrestle with the time variable. Before we invaded Iraq the suicide bombers now streaming into Iraq from Saudi Arabia were in Saudi Arabia. Go back in time to 2001. What caused 9/11? Iraqi people or Saudi people?

As for making Saddam an ally again: Saddam wanted to be a US ally. He assumed that the US government knew he really didn't have WMDs. He was hoping the US government would stop Iran from getting WMDs and he would be happy to form an alliance with the most powerful country because doing so would have been prestigious.

On Saudi Arabia and strategic allies: Well, Saudi Arabia was a strange sort of strategic ally. Internally it had schools and mosques delivering messages aimed at making its population hate us.

When I hear people tell me why we had to be allied with the Saudis and why we still have to be allied my reaction is that they are rationalizing why we just have to accept a strategic vulnerability. If we so desperately need to be nice to the Saudis then we ought to fix the underlying problem that causes this dependency.

We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq for literally no net gain in the national interest and in fact a large net loss. Why not instead spend that money on energy research?

geral sosbee said at April 20, 2010 10:59 AM:

The fbi/cia/mossad assassins pose the most serious threat to Humanity.






Suicides are often encouraged in the military, forced by the intel services and culturally acceptable as SOP in some civilian sectors.
QUESTIONS! geral sosbee

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