Thursday, June 23, 2005
WASHINGTON, Reuters -- The CIA believes the Iraq insurgency poses an international threat and may produce better-trained Islamic terrorists than the 1980s Afghanistan war that gave rise to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, officials said on June 22, 2005.
A classified report from the U.S. spy agency says Iraqi and foreign fighters are developing a broad range of skills, from car bombings and assassinations to coordinated conventional attacks on police and military targets, officials said.
An Iraqi investigator, below right, looks at the remnants of a suicide car bomb which was driven into a crowd of traffic police recruits in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil. (Stringer/Iraq/Reuters)
Once the insurgency ends, Islamic militants are likely to disperse as highly organized battle-hardened combatants capable of operating throughout the Arab-speaking world and in other regions including Europe.
Fighters leaving Iraq would primarily pose a challenge for their countries of origin including Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
But the May report, which has been widely circulated in the intelligence community, also cites a potential threat to the United States.
"You have people coming to the action with anti-U.S. sentiment ... And since they're Iraqi or foreign Arabs or to some degree Kurds, they have more communities they can blend into outside Iraq," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the report's classified status.
Iraq has become a magnet for Islamic militants similar to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan two decades ago and Bosnia in the 1990s, U.S. officials say.
Bin Laden won prominence as a U.S. ally in the war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. He later used Afghanistan as the training center for his al Qaeda network, which is blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on Washington and New York.
justified the invasion of Iraq in part by charging that was supporting al Qaeda. A top U.S. inquiry later found no collaboration between prewar Iraq and the bin Laden network.
But since the invasion, Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has emerged as a key insurgent figure and pledged his allegiance to bin Laden. Full Reuters story. D.H.: Bush administration spokesmen denied the significance of this report, and claimed coalition anti-insurgency efforts are working.
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