Saudi Arabia and Libya, both considered allies by the United States in its fight against terrorism, were the source of about 60 percent of the foreign fighters who came to Iraq in the past year to serve as suicide bombers or to facilitate other attacks, according to senior American military officials.
The data come largely from a trove of documents and computers discovered in September, when American forces raided a tent camp in the desert near Sinjar, close to the Syrian border. The raid’s target was an insurgent cell believed to be responsible for smuggling the vast majority of foreign fighters into Iraq.
The most significant discovery was a collection of biographical sketches that listed hometowns and other details for more than 700 fighters brought into Iraq since August 2006. [complete article]
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq shortly after the fall of Baghdad, said this week he supports Democratic legislation that calls for most troops to come home within a year.
His comments come as welcomed ammunition for the Democratic-controlled Congress in its standoff with the White House on war spending. This month, the House passed a $50 billion bill that would pay for combat operations but sets the goal that combat end by Dec. 15, 2008. The White House threatened to veto the measure, and Senate Republicans blocked it from passing.
The Pentagon on Tuesday said that as many as 200,000 civilian employees and contractors will begin receiving layoff warnings by Christmas unless Congress approves a war spending bill that President Bush will sign. [complete article]
Iraqis are returning to their homeland by the hundreds each day, by bus, car and plane, encouraged by weeks of decreased violence and increased security, or compelled by visa and residency restrictions in neighboring countries and the depletion of their savings.
Those returning make up only a tiny fraction of the 2.2 million Iraqis who have fled Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But they represent the largest number of returnees since February 2006, when sectarian violence began to rise dramatically, speeding the exodus from Iraq. [complete article]
More than 300,000 Shiite Muslims from southern Iraq have signed a petition condemning Iran for fomenting violence in Iraq, according to a group of sheiks leading the campaign.
“The Iranians, in fact, have taken over all of south Iraq,” said a senior tribal leader from the south who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his life. “Their influence is everywhere.” [complete article]