Sunday, July 04, 2004

The Iraqi Nexus: Another Schanzer Article

The Iraqi Nexus is written by Jon Schanzer and appeared in the National Review Online. His topic: targeting Iraqi fighters. And here's a bit:
Articles and websites published before the war suggest that al Qaeda expected many thousands of fighters to enter Iraq. An intercepted memo penned by al Qaeda associate Abu Musab al-Zarkawi, suggests that the terrorist organization is dismayed by dwindling numbers. Its leaders are struggling with recruitment even as anti-American sentiment is surging in the region. However few, these fighters are still wreaking havoc, having scored some of the more spectacular attacks, including bloody assaults against the U.N., the Jordanian embassy, Basra's oil installations, and multiple beheadings of hostages.

Clouding the picture are other fighters who may be joining their ranks. They include: Ansar al-Islam (the local al Qaeda affiliate from Kurdistan), the Zarkawi network, home-grown Sunni Islamists, nationalist guerrillas, former Baathist regime elements, Iranian-sponsored fighters, and Shiite militias. The terrorist threat in Iraq is best described as a number of overlapping and concentric circles representing different groups.

Given this new and dangerous reality, Bush administration detractors rightly charge that the American presence in Baghdad has prompted a larger terrorist problem. They ignore, however, the fact that Iraq's involvement in terror before the war contributed to the current problems. Iraq served as one of about three dozen smaller hubs for global terrorists in the lead-up to the war. Iraq was not an al Qaeda epicenter like Sudan or Afghanistan. But it also was not like the Philippines, which cooperates with Washington to stamp out al Qaeda.
Yep, there's a lot of bad guys running around inside Iraq. Some of them were there before the war started and every day a few more slip into the country. I guess I'd rather have them in Iraq than slipping across our northern or southern borders.

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