2005 July 18 Monday
Iraq Invasion Radicalized Foreign Jihadists In Iraq
The war in Iraq radicalized many Arabs. Most of the bombers in Iraq would not have become terrorists had the United States not invaded Iraq.
However, interrogations of nearly 300 Saudis captured while trying to sneak into Iraq and case studies of more than three dozen others who blew themselves up in suicide attacks show that most were heeding the calls from clerics and activists to drive infidels out of Arab land, according to a study by Saudi investigator Nawaf Obaid, a US-trained analyst who was commissioned by the Saudi government and given access to Saudi officials and intelligence.
A separate 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."
President Bush sure knows how to push the buttons of the Arabs.
''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
The bull is going to remain in the china shop until January 2009.
What I see is the silver lining in this gray cloud: The Arabs are helping to sell the European public on the idea that immigration is not a solution to their aging populations.
This is what I expected to happen: invading Iraq would turn people into jihadists who never were before. Obvious, really. But then, what does 'obvious' mean? When the bozos at the CPA and Pentagon decided to lay off the entire Iraqi Army, I saw the problem in seconds. While the powers that be, on the other hand, had to wait until the shit actually hit the fan, and even then publicly denied the problem existed for months.
The same argument says that leaving Iraq would mostly dry up this supply. Obvious.
It's been a classic case of ideology trumping reality.
I agree that a withdrawal will dry up the supply of 'arab-independence' fighters (ie those fighter's who are only motivated to fight to free 'occupied' arab lands), and I think that's important so the west can concentrate on fighting the real war.
That said, the US policy makers would prefer to slowly bleed to death rather than withdraw (so long as they don't personally have to do the bleeding). And a big factor will be that a lot of those 'arab-independence' fighters (who, post-withdrawal, will be well armed veterans with high morale) will head toward Israel to finish the job.
I don't think there would have been any shortage of Al Qaeda recruits anyway. The organization recruiting and trained 100,000 people throughout the 1990s in Afghanistan...and contrary to the PC crap, 9-11 was a recruiting boost for Al Qaeda on top of that.
To hypothesis further - the organization has a large enough sympathetic base that you're unlikely to kill them by running them dry of recruits. You have to either kill the organization itself, or remove its reason for being. Granted, radicalizing the Muslim world even more isn't a great thing by itself, but they'd hardly have had problems recruiting even without Iraq. The Muslim world cheered 9-11, and was against our effort in Afghanistan, and provided plenty of recruits even before both of those.
Quality matters. The more who want to become terrorists the greater chance ones that have substantial talent and resources will join up. Al Qaeda treated the training centers as places to look through for better talent. They did not want all 100,000 because most of them weren't very talented or motivated.
The Iraq legacy that will cause the most damage to us is probably coming to come from Western Muslims who go to Iraq, carry out attacks, and then return to Western countries on their Western passports. Then they will carry out attacks in the West.