Iraq's foreign militants 'come from US allies
Thursday November 22, 2007
60% of all foreign militants who entered Iraq to fight over the past
year came from Saudi Arabia and Libya, according to files seized by
American forces at a desert camp.
files listed the nationalities and biographical details of more than
700 fighters who crossed into Iraq from August last year, around half
of whom came to the country to be suicide bombers, the New York Times
all, 305, or 41%, of the fighters listed were from Saudi Arabia.
Another 137, or 18%, came from Libya. Both countries are officially US
allies in anti-terrorism efforts.
contrast, 56 Syrians were listed and no Lebanese. Previously, US
officials estimated that around a fifth of all foreign fighters in Iraq
came from these two countries.
officials have also long complained about Iranian interference in the
affairs of its neighbour, accusing Tehran of shipping weapons for
militants over the border. However, any assistance does not appear to
extend to people, the paper said, reporting that, of around 25,000
suspected militants in US custody in Iraq, 11 were Iranian. No Iranians
were listed among the fighters whose details were found.
information came from files and computers seized in September when US
forces raided a camp in the desert near Sinjar, a small town in
north-west Iraq, close to the Syrian border. It was believed the camp
was the base for an insurgent cell responsible for smuggling the vast
majority of foreign fighters into Iraq.
files also gave details of 68 Yemeni nationals, the third-biggest
source. There were 64 fighters from Algeria, 50 from Morocco, 38 from
Tunisia, 14 from Jordan, six from Turkey and two each from Egypt and
to the newspaper, US officials believe the raid stemmed the flow of
foreign militants into Iraq, which dropped to around 40 in October,
down from a peak of more than 100 a month in the first half of this
month there were 16 suicide bombings in Iraq, sharply down from a peak
of 59 in March. According to the report, the US military believes 90%
of such attacks are carried out by foreigners.
US officers fear this effect may be temporary. "We cut the head off,
but the tail is still left," a senior military official told the
newspaper. "Regeneration is completely within the realm of possibility."
US has previously estimated the nationalities of fighters crossing over
the Syrian border into Iraq, but the seized files give a more complete
Saudi Arabia is a long-term US ally, its nationals form the nucleus of
al-Qaida; 15 of the 19 September 11 attackers were from the country.
while Libya was listed by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism, it
was removed last year after the countries restored full diplomatic
Powered by ScribeFire.