The 21st Century Phenomenon





As the end of the USA combat mission in Iraq draws closer, extremist groups such as Al Qaeda remain ”pretty much intact”, the US Special Forces commander, Brigadier-General Patrick Higgins, said in his first interview, on Wednesday 08/11/2010, since taking command in Baghdad last year.


Al Qaeda has been weakened, whoever, by the deaths of top leaders and a decline in foreign funding, General Higgins said.


Members of Al Qaeda in Iraq had increasingly resorted to kidnapping and extortion to stay afloat. ”The line between terrorism and criminality has blurred so much that some of these guys are just outsourcing,” General Higgins said. He contradicts his top commander Gen. Ray Odierno, who said, on Friday 06/04/2010, that Al Qaeda in Iraq was “Almost Destroyed”.


It seems Brig, Gen. Patrick Higgins lacks the perspective about Al Qaeda in Iraq in the years 2004-2007. Al Qaeda in Iraq, known initially as Ansar al Islam and later, since 2006, as the “Islamic Khalifat of Iraq” dragged Iraq, in the years 2004-2008 to a bloody sectarian war, ignited in large extent by Al Qaeda in Iraq, between Sunnis and Shiites with an average of about 2,000 civilians killed each month in the years 2006-7 with of peak of over 3,000 in 07/2006.


Al Qaeda in Iraq practically dominated and controlled large Sunni provinces in Iraq such as Anbar Province, West of Baghdad, Diyala Province North East of Baghdad and in Ninevah Province on the Syrian border. In the years 2006-7 many thousands of Muslim volunteers from all over the world, especially the Muslim world, rushed to Iraq through the Syrian border to join the war against USA, among them over 800 would be suicide bombers. In Europe a great number of networks and cells were active in raising money for Al Qaeda in Iraq and recruiting volunteers, including suicide bombers. All this world-wide huge network is now fully dismantled in Europe (see- Europe arrests 11.06.07) and the Arab World, especially Saudi Arabia (see – Saudi 04/2007 arrests). The border with Syria, especially after the Abu-Kamal Raid, is almost sealed and the number of infiltrators from Syria to Iraq is measured in few dozen rather then many hundreds a month.


From that peak only few remnants remain. The senior experienced commanders Abu Musab al Zarqawi and his successors Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were killed and the new generation deteriorated Al Qaeda in Iraq from a consolidated ideological organization to a semi crime gang, one of many in Iraq. The attention of Al Qaeda and the Global Jihad shifted to other corners of the Muslim World: Yemen, Somalia and FATA region in Pakistan.


Iraq is still a crucible of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites, a source of regional and international concern (see – ETHNIC IRAQ) but Al Qaeda in Iraq is a pale shadow of the ideological Al Qaeda in Iraq just two years ago. 



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