NEWS: Foreign fighters in Iraq

Foreign fighters in Iraq are tied to allies of U.S.

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]

Ex-Iraq commander says bring troops home

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]

Returnees find a capital transformed

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]

Shiites in S. Iraq rebuke Tehran

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]

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2 thoughts on “NEWS: Foreign fighters in Iraq

  1. John Burgess

    Something missing from the piece you quote about foreign fighters in Iraq is the proportion of militants they represent. While some pieces note that Saudis constitute 41% of the foreign militants, they are not giving truly useful information.

    The US Army has 25,000 militants in detention. Of those, 305 are Saudi. That works out to 0.122% of the militants being Saudi.

    That paints a slightly different picture than what the headlines were touting….

    You can read more at Crossroads Arabia.

  2. Paul Woodward

    While it’s worth noting that foreign militants make up a tiny fraction of the 25,000 now in detention — the Times cites officials saying 290 altogether — there seem to be several inferences that can be drawn here. Firstly, when it comes to foreign support for the insurgency, it’s worth underlining how much of this comes from Saudi Arabia at a time when American fingers are so frequently being pointed at Iran. Secondly, if the the insurgent cell shut down in September was as the Times states, “responsible for smuggling the vast majority of foreign fighters into Iraq,” then this raid may have been as important as the much-praised “surge” in cutting down the number of suicide bombings in Baghdad in recent weeks.

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