Saturday, May 17, 2008

Iraq Exporting Terrorists

Another interesting bit from Max Boot.
One of the familiar tropes of the anti-war caucus is that Iraq had no links to terrorism prior to the American invasion but now it has become a breeding ground of terrorists who will destabilize other countries. The first part of the argument—the claim that Saddam-era Iraq was not linked to terrorism—should have been demolished by the recent Iraq Perspectives Project report. (Unfortunately, its findings were generally misreported by the MSM.) The second part of the argument—the claim that Iraq is exporting terrorism—has now come under serious assault from, of all people, the French.

In a blockbuster article, Elaine Sciolino of the New York Times yesterday reported that French security experts are retracting their earlier claims that, as then-Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin put it in 2005, Iraq-trained jihadists would “come back to France, armed with their experience, to carry out attacks.”


Sciolino, relying on interviews with French officials, offer four possible explanations for why the predicted terror surge has not occurred:

1. “The logistical challenges and expense of reaching Iraq … particularly with Syria’s making episodic efforts to halt the use of its territory as a transit route.”

2. “Iraqi insurgents currently neither need nor welcome European Muslims who lack military training and good Arabic-language skills — except if they are willing to conduct suicide missions.”

3. “ The fight in Iraq is no longer just a jihad against foreign occupiers, but also a confusing civil war pitting Muslim against Muslim. Many young people have family and ethnic ties to Pakistan or North Africa, making those places more attractive destinations, and further advancing those regions’ potential for recruiting and radicalizing young Muslims.”

4. “[L]aw enforcement authorities, particularly in countries like France, Italy and Spain, say they are convinced that their sweeping legal authority to eavesdrop, make arrests, hold suspects for long periods of time and win convictions on the vague charge of association with a terrorist enterprise has made it easier to take preventive action.”

All of those explanations seem plausible to me. But it strikes me that Sciolino is missing an important element of the puzzle: namely that the group that her newspaper insists on calling Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (which the rest of the world knows as Al Qaeda in Iraq) is losing big time. It has been routed out of its strongholds in Anbar, Baghdad, and Diyala provinces and is now being hunted down in its last remaining lairs in Mosul and vicinity.

Wonder what dem is going to continue using the original thesis that we are less safe now, even though it appears even the French are admitting it isn't so?

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