October 16, 2003

Iraq War Swells Al Qaeda's Ranks, Report Says

Well, if Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fraudida) was still in the
presidential race he would make comment on this study,
let's see which would-be anti-Bush dares to, and let's
see if "the US mainstream news media" has the courage
to elevate it to its proper place as the lead

Reuters: "War in Iraq has swollen the ranks of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant group's will, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Wednesday in its annual report."

Iraq War Swells Al Qaeda's Ranks, Report Says
Wed October 15, 2003 12:53 PM ET

By Peter Graff
LONDON (Reuters) - War in Iraq has swollen the ranks
of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant
group's will, the International Institute for
Strategic Studies said on Wednesday in its annual

The 2003-2004 edition of the British-based
think-tank's annual bible for defense analysts, The
Military Balance, said Washington's assertions after
the Iraq conflict that it had turned the corner in the
war on terror were "over-confident."

The report, widely considered an authoritative text on
the military capabilities of states and militant
groups worldwide, could prove fodder for critics of
the U.S.-British invasion and of the reconstruction
effort that has followed in Iraq.

Washington must impose security in Iraq to prevent the
country from "ripening into a cause celebre for
radical Islamic terrorists," it concluded.
"Nation-building" in Iraq was paramount and might
require more troops than initially planned.

"On the plus side, war in Iraq has denied al Qaeda a
potential supplier of weapons of mass destruction and
discouraged state sponsors of terrorism from
continuing to support it," the report said.

"On the minus side, war in Iraq has probably inflamed
radical passions among Muslims and thus increased al
Qaeda's recruiting power and morale and, at least
marginally, its operating capability," it said.

"The immediate effect of the war may have been to
isolate further al Qaeda from any potential state
supporters while also swelling its ranks and
galvanizing its will."


Magnus Ranstorp, terrorism expert at Britain's St
Andrew's University, told Reuters the report's
findings would drive home the importance of rebuilding
Iraq and other conflict zones.

"Military planners and the law enforcement community
are fully aware of the consequences of failed states,"
he said.

"I think it's probably worthwhile for politicians to
keep in mind our responsibility to provide sustained
and long term reconstruction in war-torn countries, so
they don't fly back into anarchy or become incubators
of terrorism."

Washington blames al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden,
for the 2001 U.S. airliner hijack attacks which killed
3,044 people.

A crackdown had netted some al Qaeda leaders and
deprived al Qaeda of bases in Afghanistan. But it also
"impelled an already highly decentralized and evasive
international terrorist network to become even more
'virtual' and protean and, therefore, harder to
identify and neutralize," the IISS report said.

It said 18,000 veterans of al Qaeda's Afghan training
camps were still probably operating worldwide "with
recruitment continuing and probably increasing
following the war in Iraq."

Al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, are mostly
still at large and continue to incite followers over
the Internet and through pronouncements on
Arabic-language television.

Because of its extreme religious world view, al Qaeda
"cannot be tamed or controlled through political
compromise or conflict resolution," the report said.

But Western countries need to do more to reach out to
Muslim countries and their own Islamic minorities to
"eliminate the root causes of terrorism," especially
after the Iraq war "almost certainly further alienated
Islam from the West."

Efforts should be redoubled to resolve local
conflicts, such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,
so regional radical groups such as Hamas do not fall
into al Qaeda's embrace, it said.

Posted by richard at October 16, 2003 08:51 PM