September 07, 2003

US-led occupation brings frontline against al-Qaeda to Iraq: analysts

Yes, the political situation is deteriorating for the
_resident, the VICE _resident and "all the _resident's
men." This morning, they dispatched Calm 'Em Powell to
NotBeSeen (NBC) Meat the Press so that he could be led
through damage control, on the post 9/11 escape of the
bin Ladens and associates, by Tim Rushdirt, tonight
the _resident aggresses the nation...MEANWHILE, here
is the real news from Agence France Press...Vive le
France! They gave the U.S. the Statue of Liberty, now
they are reminding the U.S. what it stands for...

US-led occupation brings frontline against al-Qaeda to Iraq: analysts
Sat Sep 6, 8:15 PM ET Add Top Stories - AFP to My

BAGHDAD (AFP) - The United States struggled before the
war to convince the world there was a link between
Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) and al-Qaeda
network, but five months of US-led occupation of Iraq
(news - web sites) may have created precisely such an
unholy alliance.

Stripped of their privileged positions under the
ousted dictator's brutal regime, Saddam's henchmen may
finally have thrown in their lot with their
ideological adversaries in Osama bin Laden (news - web
sites)'s terror network to wage war on their common
foe two years after the suicide hijackings in the
United States, analysts say.

A quartet of arrests made by Iraqi police immediately
after a massive car bombing that killed 83 people in
the Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf last week
provided the hardest evidence yet of the fledgling
marriage of convenience between Saddam and the

Two of the detainees were Saudis espousing al-Qaeda's
militant brand of Islam. The others were former
henchmen of the ousted dictator.

"Even though they are two entirely different
organizations with very different aims and objectives,
they both have an interest in creating disorder and
chaos in Iraq, and they have complementary
capabilities," said Joost Hiltermann of Brussels-based
think-tank, the International Crisis Group.

"Regime elements have access to the explosives and the
expertise, and al-Qaeda-like groups are prepared to
kill themselves," the Baghdad-based analyst said.

But Hiltermann insisted that Washington's pre-war
claims of ties between Saddam and al-Qaeda still
remained entirely unconvincing.

"I see no information that links al-Qaeda to Saddam
Hussein's people before the war, and the Americans
never provided any hard evidence, so it is an alliance
that postdates the war, not predates it," he said.

Professor Barry Buzan, international security
specialist at the London School of Economics, agreed.

"I find it quite plausible that with the Americans
having made such a big target of themselves in Iraq,
an alliance should come into existence now purely on
opportunistic grounds," he said.

"But I see no evidence of such a connection before the
war and those people who made political mileage out of
there being one have shut up."

Both analysts concurred that the US-led occupation had
turned Iraq into a magnet for al-Qaeda.

Borders rendered porous by the collapse of Saddam's
iron rule have opened the way for a host of foreign
infiltrators, not only Islamic militants but also
bankrobbers and highwaymen.

A sweeping clampdown finally launched by the
authorities in neighbouring Saudi Arabia following a
triple suicide bombing in Riyadh in May has also
helped to propel Islamic militants into Iraq to launch
attacks on their US foes.

"Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda-like groups have every reason
for going into Iraq -- it's a perfect recruiting
ground, the Americans are there as a target and they
have got the world's press," said Buzan.

Three deadly car bombings in as many weeks and a
guerrilla war that has cost more US lives than the
invasion itself have convinced even US officials here
that they are now on a new frontline in their
worldwide war with the militants.

"I think it's true that Iraq now faces an important
terrorist threat," US civil administrator Paul Bremer
told a Baghdad news conference this week.

"We have seen an influx of both foreign fighters and
foreign terrorists in the last months. It shows that
Iraq is one of the battlefields in the worldwide war
on terrorism."

Many Iraqis at the receiving end of the violence
plaguing the country are also convinced that al-Qaeda
militants are at work here in league with members of
the ousted regime.

Sayyed Ali al-Waadi al-Musawi, who was the target of
latest of a string of assassination attempts against
Shiite clerics here earlier this week, said he
believed they were a deliberate bid by militants and
Saddam loyalists to stoke communal tensions.

"There are a lot of enemy groups that we know about
such as followers of the old regime and al-Qaeda,"
said Sayyed Ali, the agent in the capital of Shiite
Islam's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

"One of the problems is that there are lots of
mercenaries here in Iraq now because of the open

"We want Sunnis and Shiites to be united but there are
foreign hands that are trying to fuel communalism
here," he said.

Posted by richard at September 7, 2003 01:45 PM