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December 21, 2005
Zarqawi Starts Arranging Next Front For Al-Qaeda

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have seen the writing on the wall in Iraq and started looking for greener pastures -- or perhaps more yellow. As the Iraqis increasingly take the terrorists on themselves, Zarqawi has decided to open a more promising front:

A wave of arrests across Europe has thrown new light on a European terrorist network being developed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most prominent insurgent in Iraq.

A growing number of terrorism investigations in Britain, Germany, Bosnia, Denmark and most recently Spain and France are linked to the man who has masterminded countless suicide bombings in Iraq, personally beheaded hostages and bombed three hotels in his native Jordan.

Some of the suspected networks appear to be involved only in supporting his operations in Iraq. But counter-terrorism officials are worried that Zarqawi could be planning to use his base in Iraq to start attacking Europe. Security officials are particularly worried by indications that he wants to recruit white extremists who will be more difficult to detect than Arabs or Asians.

For those who want to claim that the invasion of Iraq allowed Zarqawi to create a network that reached into Europe, the Telegraph's source stresses that it actually went the other direction:

"Zarqawi thinks he is bigger than Iraq," a British source said. "He is spreading his tentacles in Europe. There is a sense that attacks are inevitable. Even before the invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi had a network in Europe that provided funds and recruits. The same pipeline will sooner or later pump the other way, from Iraq to Europe."

As Zarqawi gets more and more marginalized in Iraq, he will need to go elsewhere to fight his jihad. He has already learned that the Americans have not lost their nerve. Now that the Iraqis have thrown in with democracy, including his one-time supporters among the Sunnis, he and his network will need to go elsewhere to fight the West.

Interestingly, according to this report, most of the countries in which Zarqawi seems most interested were the least interested in fighting him. Take a look at the list of nations that have ongoing investigations into Zarqawi's incursions: Germany, Spain, and France all opposed the Iraq war and vigorously challenged the Bush administration's efforts to fight terrorism. Yet, instead of focusing his efforts against those nations that have assisted Bush, Zarqawi has selected the nations that shied from the fight (except for Britain and Denmark, exceptions probably due to large Muslim populations). Not only has Zarqawi selected targets among those nations, he also has recruited from them.

The AQ effort in these nations show that Islamists have more attraction towards those who surrender to their efforts than those who fight them whenever and wherever they appear. No doubt that Zarqawi would also like to infiltrate America and stage attacks here. However, the efforts of France, Spain, Germany and others to draw distinctions between themselves and America as somehow more friendly to Islamists because of their retreat in the face of their terror. They have gained nothing in the end except a front of their own in the war.

UPDATE: CQ reader Edwin K corrects me about Denmark being part of the Coalition, which I've corrected.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 21, 2005 10:55 PM

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