November 23, 2007

Another Sign Of Progress

The Guardian reports that over 40% of the foreign terrorists who went into Iraq for al-Qaeda had Saudi citizenship, a trend that has been reported repeatedly over the last two years. A raid on an AQI camp in Sinjar on the Iraqi-Syrian border reconfirmed this trend. Since the raid early this year, the number of terrorists trying to cross into Iraq has declined dramatically, showing that the quiet efforts of the Saudis may be paying off -- even though a significant portion of the "Saudis" may be anything but:

Overall, US officials reported that the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq this year dropped from 80-110 a month in the first half of the year to around 40 in October, partly due to the Sinjar raid.

After the raid the number of suicide bombings in Iraq fell to 16 in October - half the number seen during the summer months and down from a peak of 59 in March. US military officials believe that 90% of such bombings are by foreigners.

The captured data has been described as an intelligence treasure trove that included biographical details and the hometowns of the more than 700 fighters who entered Iraq since August 2006. Of those 307, or 41%, were Saudis and 137, or 18%, Libyans, senior US military sources told the New York Times.

Saudi Arabia, former home of Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers, has cracked down hard on al-Qaida in recent years. Saudi intelligence works closely with its US counterparts, but there have long been suspicions that the country's most dangerous jihadis have gone to Iraq. "The border with Iraq is much more carefully controlled than it was 18 months ago," said one British official. The Saudis also run extensive programmes "re-educating" and rehabilitating fighters who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan to see "the error of their ways".

The Guardian waits until the end of the article to list the third-highest contributor to the terrorists in Iraq: Yemen. This has more significance than readers might conclude, given its position in the story. The ethnic Yemenis, not the Saudis, have been the biggest problem in the war on terror, and the Saudis have the same problem with them as we do.

One of the terror-war factoids that one hears repeatedly is that the majority of the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia. What most people don't know is that the majority of those were ethnic Yemenis from disputed territory between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which the Saudis now control. The territory generates terrorists against the Sauds as much or more than against the Iraqis or the US, as al-Qaeda exploits the dispute to amplify hatred against the Saudis. That fits perfectly into the plans of Osama bin Laden, who wants to see the Saudi royal family overthrown and a new caliphate put in its place -- headed by Osama.

Osama sends these terrorists into Iraq for seasoning. At first, it seemed to work, as AQI became ascendant in the West. These Yemenis could then present a threat to the Saudis from the north, in Iraq, and the south, in the disputed region once they returned. The collapse of AQI in Iraq means that these Yemenis have nowhere to go, and that the few who return will bring news of AQ's collapse against the West.

Six weeks ago, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa forbidding Saudis to leave the country on jihad. The usefulness of this edict seemed questionable, given the lack of respect these Yemenis had for the ruling Saudi clique. However, it does appear to have reflected a more active counter-terrorist effort by the Sauds, which has helped curtail entry into Iraq of terrorists of any stripe. That may have been long overdue, but so far, it has worked.


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» Yemenis to Iraq from Armies of Liberation
According to one list, the third largest source of foreign fighters, not to mention facilitiating Saudis. Guardian Around 60% of all foreign militants who entered Iraq to fight over the past year came from Saudi Arabia and Libya, according to files se... [Read More]