Tuesday, July 29, 2008

al-Qa'ida's Foreign Fighters in Iraq

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has released its second report about al-Qa'ida's foreign fighters in Iraq. Entitled Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al-Qa`ida's Road in and Out of Iraq, the report expands on the analysis contained in the first report and introduces "a host of new data" about suicide bombers, fighters, funding sources and expenditures, and ties to other groups.

Major new findings summarized by Professor Sawyer of West Point (GovDoc-L 28 Jul 2008) include:
Foreign Fighters were an important source of funds for AQI; Saudi Fighters contributed far more money than any other nationality.

Far more Syrians and Egyptians are held at Camp Bucca than were listed in the Sinjar Records, which likely reflects the demographic shift away from those nationalities.

Approximately 75% of suicide bombings in Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007 can be attributed to fighters listed in the Sinjar Records.

"Bleedout" of fighters from Iraq is occurring, but in relatively small numbers. Nonetheless, these individual fighters will likely be well-trained and very dangerous. The primary threat from these fighters is to Arab states, Af-Pak, and perhaps Somalia.

Smuggling of all kinds across the Syrian/Iraqi border has long been linked to corruption in both Syria and Iraq, which limits both government's ability to crackdown.

Fighters that contributed money to AQI were more likely to become suicide bombers.