Tuesday, July 19, 2005

So much for "flypaper"

Now the Saudi government, an Israeli think tank, and the CIA have weighed in to say that the Iraq War helped out the terrorists. (Thanks, Brandon, for the first two.)

"The vast majority of them had nothing to do with Al Qaeda before Sept. 11th and have nothing to do with Al Qaeda today," said Reuven Paz, author of the Israeli study. "I am not sure the American public is really aware of the enormous influence of the war in Iraq, not just on Islamists but the entire Arab world."

Case studies of foreign fighters indicated they considered the Iraq war an attack on the Muslim religion and Arab culture, Paz said.

For example, while the unprovoked attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were largely condemned by clerics as violations of Muslim law, many religious leaders in Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations have promulgated fatwas, or religious edicts, saying that waging jihad in Iraq is justified by the Koran because it is defensive in nature. Last October, 26 clerics in Saudi Arabia said it was the duty of every Muslim to go and fight in Iraq.

"These are people who did not get training in Pakistan or Chechnya, [and they] ended up going to Iraq because they considered defending Iraq a must for every Muslim to go and fight," said Rita Katz, director of the Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute in Washington and an Iraq native.

The studies also explained something I'd been wondering about for a while. Why do foreign fighters commit so many terrorist acts to undermine the new Iraqi government, like blowing up police stations? One part of the explanation, at least, is the Sunni-Shiite divide. Seeing the new Iraqi government as a Shiite government allows Sunnis from other parts of the world to feel no compunction about undermining it.

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