First Published: 2006-01-12

 
Iraq evolving into ideal school of 'Jihadism'
 

Analysts say combatants in Iraq are potentially more mobile, dangerous and trained than ever before.

 

Middle East Online

By Michel Moutot - PARIS

They move individually or in small groups

The conflict in Iraq is evolving into an ideal training ground for a new breed of seasoned urban terrorist capable of striking anywhere in the world, according to security and terrorism analysts.

The hard core of combatants in the anti-American jihad, whether foreign or Iraqi, are potentially more mobile and dangerous than the fearsome Muhajedeen fighters who drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in the 1980s and who, not incidentally, gave rise to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda, they say.

"It is a perfect model of urban combat that did not exist in Afghanistan," said Michael Klare, a professor and security expert at the University of Amherst in the United States.

Foreign fighters "will come back from Iraq with an ability to do terrible things. The longer the war goes on, the more people will be trained in this fashion, and the more of a danger they will pose," he said.

The anti-American forces in Iraq are fighting street-by-street and building-by-building, using improvised explosive devices, sniper fire and suicide bombers, techniques that would all be "applicable and dangerous in a European urban setting," he added.

US government analysts have also identified a growing risk of exportable urban warfare.

"Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamist extremists than Afghanistan was in Al-Qaeda's early days because it is serving as a real-world laboratory," according to a classified CIA report cited last year by the New York Times.

Most jihadist fighters in Iraq are not grouped in camps, where they would be vulnerable, but move individually or in small groups through an elaborate urban network of safe houses, according to Iraqi police, the US military and the testimony of captured combatants.

By operating in this manner they gain deadly experience in clandestine and guerrilla urban warfare.

Jeremy Binnie, a conflict analyst at Jane's Defence Weekly, also highlighted the contrast with Afghanistan which, he said, "was more appropriate to train fighters for Bosnia or Chechnya. It was a traditional guerrilla tactic - you retreat to your mountainous safe haven."

"In Iraq it is much more about using safe houses, smuggling things underneath the noses of security forces, and developing bombing tactics and targeting technologies relevant to an urban terrorist campaign," he said.

As for the possibility that anti-American forces may one day venture beyond Iraq's borders, Binnie was more circumspect.

"So far, people are fighting inside Iraq, and that movement abroad does not seem to have started. But it is something all security forces are extremely concerned about," he said.

"What we are more worried about are the more senior figures who are doing the training and developing the skills," he added. "We are probably not talking about a huge number of people - probably more hundreds than thousands."

Klare, who published a prophetic article in 2003 entitled "How to defeat bin Laden," was not optimistic that leaders in Washington would act to prevent the Iraqi resistance from evolving into a highly-mobile network of urban terrorism.

"The professionals in the State Department, Defense Department and the CIA understand this very well. But it does not seem to affect decision-making in the White House, that has done everything wrong from the beginning."

 

Veteran crisis manager Ouyahia recalled as Algeria PM

Iraqi jets pound IS-held Tal Afar

Iran warns it can quit nuclear deal within hours

Tunisia foils plot to help IS seize territory

Damascus International Fair back after 5-year absence

Ankara asks Berlin to investigate 'top coup fugitive' sightings

Iran laments ‘hypocritical’ US religious freedom report

No single pattern in radicalisation of foreign fighters, says Tunisian study

Turkey tells Iraqi Kurds that referendum risks ‘civil war’

Russia hopes Iran will stick to nuclear deal

Israel demolishes home of Palestinian attacker's family

Libyan coastguard threaten migrant aid group

Kuwait reports second oil spill

Algeria President sacks PM after less than three months

Israel detains Islamic cleric for inciting violence

Western-backed rebels claim to shoot down Syrian jet

ICC issues arrest of Libyan National Army commander

Qatar says 'lot of time' needed to rebuild Gulf trust

Oil governor of Iraq’s Basra flees to Iran amid corruption probe

Macron tells Erdogan to release French journalist

Fatwa against Ibadi Muslims in Libya risks igniting sectarian strife

Archaeologists uncover three ancient tombs in Egypt

Turkey arrests Belgian IS member suspected of ‘planning attack’

Iraq, Saudi to reopen border crossing after 27 years

Iran parliament takes step towards easing drug laws

Syrian civilians flee jihadist conscription

Turkish police hunt coup suspects

Conflicts in Syria, Iraq far from over

Heat wave, raging fires take toll across Maghreb

Italy sends envoy back to Egypt after student killing

UN says Yemen air raids exceed rate last year

US troops killed in Iraq artillery 'mishap'

Roadside blast kills 12 civilians in south Yemen

Marooned in jihad: Russian fighters blocked from returning home

Syrians fleeing IS face ‘terrible’ camp conditions

Palestinian Authority releases arrested journalists

Dubai’s soaring property sales boost Emaar’s profits

Iraq struggling to contain its militia activity in Syria

WHO says over half-million affected by cholera in Yemen

Divorces rising to record high in Jordan

Over 600,000 Syrians return home says UN

Will Moroccan Jews in Israel vote Labour in 2019 elections?

Lebanese Army readies for second phase of border campaign

Iranian conservatives tighten grip on Expediency Council

Israel detains billionaire under fraud investigation