Iraq beginning to export fighters to nearby countries - and beyond
"The Iraq war, which for years has drawn militants from around the world, is beginning to export fighters and the tactics they have honed in the insurgency to neighboring countries and beyond," The New York Times reports.
According to the report, experts now say that the experience that Jihadists are currently gaining in Iraq will become far more problematic than the training Muslim radicals received in Afghanistan's terrorist camps.
A report written by former State Department intelligence analyst Dennis Pluchinsky in April stated "battle-hardened militants from Iraq posed a greater threat to the West than extremists who trained in Afghanistan because Iraq had become a laboratory for urban guerrilla tactics."
"Operational parallels" exist between urban terrorist activity in Iraq and the urban environments of Europe and the United States, Pluchinksky said. "More relevant terrorist skills are transferable from Iraq to Europe than from Afghanistan to Europe," Pluchinsky wrote.
According to the article, Jordan is one of the first to feel the effects of Iraq's exported terrorism. A terrorist plot was recently foiled in which a group of militants from Iraq planned to bomb tourists at an airport.
Captured bomber Muhammad al-Darsi, a militant who sought to kill Americans in Iraq after being freed from prison in Libya, was recruited and trained by Iraqi militants for the purported Jordan attack.
"A recruiter he found on the Internet arranged to meet him on a bridge in Damascus, Syria. But when he got there, Mr. Darsi, 24, said the recruiter told him he was not needed in Iraq. Instead, he was drafted into the war that is seeping out of Iraq," the Times reports.
"A team of militants from Iraq had traveled to Jordan, where they were preparing attacks on Americans and Jews, Mr. Darsi said the recruiter told him. He asked Mr. Darsi to join them and blow himself up in a crowd of tourists at Queen Alia Airport in Amman."
Furthermore, an article published in Monday's Gulf News posits that members of a Palestinian militant group fighting the Lebanese military previously fought in Iraq and received training in Jordan.
"Primarily made of Sunni Arabs, the resistance group announced its formation last November, shortly after two of its members were arrested by the Lebanese authorities," Gulf News says. "Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's Middle East analyst, says the group is trans-national and that many of the fighters have fought in Iraq and have trained in camps in places such as Jordan."
In 2005, Iraqi interior minister Bayan Jabur warned that foreign fighters training in Iraq planned to return home to carry out attacks throughout the muslim world. Jabur specifically indicated that Americans in Yemen and Egypt were likely targets.
Excerpts from the New York Times article:
Some of the fighters appear to be leaving as part of the waves of Iraqi refugees crossing borders that government officials acknowledge they struggle to control. But others are dispatched from Iraq for specific missions. In the Jordanian airport plot, the authorities said they believed that the bomb maker flew from Baghdad to prepare the explosives for Mr. Darsi.
Estimating the number of fighters leaving Iraq is at least as difficult as it has been to count foreign militants joining the insurgency. But early signs of an exodus are clear, and officials in the United States and the Middle East say the potential for veterans of the insurgency to spread far beyond Iraq is significant.
Maj. Gen. Achraf Rifi, general director of the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon, said in a recent interview that �if any country says it is safe from this, they are putting their heads in the sand.�
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