Iraq as a training ground for al Qaeda?

NY Times:

A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.

The assessment, completed last month and circulated among government agencies, was described in recent days by several Congressional and intelligence officials. The officials said it made clear that the war was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict.

Congressional and intelligence officials who described the assessment called it a thorough examination that included extensive discussion of the areas that might be particularly prone to infiltration by combatants from Iraq, either Iraqis or foreigners.

They said the assessment had argued that Iraq, since the American invasion of 2003, had in many ways assumed the role played by Afghanistan during the rise of Al Qaeda during the 1980's and 1990's, as a magnet and a proving ground for Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries.

There is a glaring problem with this analysis. For Iraq to be a training ground the jihadist has to survive it. Most of those coming to Iraq are coming to die not for training. See the piece below on the arrest in Spain and the Damacus connection. If anything there is a stronger argument that Iraq is a flypaper drawing al Qaeda operatives to their death. Rather than having to search the world to find them, they are coming to us in Iraq and they are either exploding or otherwise being destroyed. The Times trots this storyline out every now and then as part of its campaign against the liberation of Iraq.


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