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NYT: Stolen oil profits keep Iraq's insurgency running
Published: Saturday March 15, 2008

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While many US officials and politicians routinely point to jihadism or Islamofascism as key motivating factors for Iraq's insurgency, a growing number of officers on the ground are blaming economic conditions instead, according to an article slated for the front page of Sunday's New York Times.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. reports that "there are officers in the U.S. military who openly question how much a role jihadism plays in the minds of most people who carry out attacks. As the U.S. occupation has worn on and unemployment has remained high, these officers say the overwhelming motivation of insurgents is the need to earn a paycheck."

"Ninety percent of the guys out here who do attacks are just people who want to feed their families," Maj. Kelly Kendrick, operations officer for the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division in Salahuddin, tells the Times.

Stolen oil profits are helping to keep the insurgency running, according to Sunday's report.

The Times notes, "The sea of oil under Iraq is supposed to rebuild the nation and then make it prosper. But at least one-third, and possibly much more, of the fuel from Iraq's largest refinery here is diverted to the black market, according to U.S. military officials. Tankers are hijacked, drivers are bribed, papers are forged and meters are manipulated -- and some of the earnings go to insurgents who are still killing more than 100 Iraqis a week."

"It's the money pit of the insurgency," Capt. Joe Da Silva, a commander of several platoons stationed at the refinery, tells the paper.

Excerpts from article:


Money from swindles in Iraq and from foreign patrons in places like Saudi Arabia allows a disparate, decentralized collection of insurgent cells to hire recruits and pay for large-scale attacks.

But the focus on money is the insurgency's weakness as well as its strength, and one reason why loyalties can be traded. For now, at least 91,000 Iraqis, many of them former enemies of the U.S. forces, receive a regular American-paid salary for serving in neighborhood militias.

"It has a great deal more to do with the economy than with ideology," said one senior U.S. military official, who said that studies of detainees in American custody found that about three-quarters were not committed to the jihadist ideology. "The vast majority have nothing to do with the caliphate and the central ideology of al-Qaida."


Full article at this link