September 27, 2005


Iraq's foreign fighters: few but deadly: A new report says foreigners make up 4 to 10 percent of Iraq's 30,000 insurgents. (Dan Murphy, 9/27/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

Much of the US effort in Iraq in recent months has been aimed at stopping the inflow of foreign jihadis. US warplanes have blown up bridges to deny insurgent infiltration routes, troops have occupied small towns thought to be crossing points for foreigners into bigger cities, and spy drones continuously buzz the Syrian border.

Even if the US can seal Iraq's borders, stopping the flow of foreign fighters would do little to eliminate most of the country's insurgents. Only 4 to 10 percent of the country's combatants are foreign fighters, according to a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies released last week. But while they are a minority, says the report, they are a potent segment largely from Algeria and Syria.

"The fact that there are 3,000 foreign fighters in Iraq is cause for alarm, particularly because they play so large a role in the most violent bombings and in the efforts to provoke a major and intense civil war,'' write coauthors Anthony Cordesman, a former director of defense intelligence assessment for the secretary of Defense, and Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi national and security analyst. Based mostly on Saudi intelligence, they estimate that active members of the insurgency number about 30,000.

The obvious solution is to topple Assad so the foreign fighters can go home to wage jihad.

US is logging gains against Al Qaeda in Iraq: The US military says improved intelligence led to the killing of two key leaders of the group. (Jill Carroll and Dan Murphy, 9/28/05, CS Monitor)

In a succession of intelligence breaks, the US says it has killed two key members of Al Qaeda in Iraq in recent days, including the organization's No. 2 man who is suspected of orchestrating a series of suicide bombings in Baghdad since April.

According to American military officials, the US has either made key arrests or developed informants who have led to a cascade of actionable intelligence over the past month. Since the middle of August, the US has reported killing or capturing at least 16 members of Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

How big a blow this is to the insurgency in Iraq remains unclear. While US human intelligence has clearly improved, no one has a clear understanding of the internal workings of Mr. Zarqawi's network, which is thought to be only a small portion of Iraq's decentralized and highly complex insurgency.

"By itself these events don't do much to destroy Al Qaeda as much as undermine and undercut it. But this comes after some very successful operations in Tal Afar that wrapped up the Al Qaeda network there,'' says Anthony Cordesman, a former senior intelligence analyst for the US and now an expert on the Iraq insurgency at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2005 6:48 PM

Start spreading rumours that all the best-looking and most energetic virgins are Saudi.

Posted by: ratbert at September 27, 2005 7:27 PM

I maintain that the plan was to allow as many jihadis into Iraq for as long as possible for the specific purpose of killing them.

Even the argument that our actions have made Muslims "more radicalized" fits into this plan.

Might it come to "diminishing returns" soon? Maybe. But it seems intentional nonetheless.

Posted by: Bruno at September 28, 2005 11:18 AM

So therefore 90% to 96% of the insurgents are Sunni's, one could generalize. Going to be an interesting year, 2006.

Posted by: Genecis at September 28, 2005 2:11 PM
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