An Al Qaeda rolodex: a vast treasure trove of captured documents and records provides a unique insight into the foreign jihadis fighting in Iraq, prompting the US military to reassess how it views Al Qaeda.
THE US COMMANDOS, acting on a tip-off, struck just before dawn on 11 September, 2007, shooting their way into a tent camp outside Sinjar, a small dusty town in northwestern Iraq about 16km from the border with Syria. It was a key nerve centre in the insurgent INSURGENT. One who is concerned in an insurrection. He differs from a rebel in this, that rebel is always understood in a bad sense, or one who unjustly opposes the constituted authorities; insurgent may be one who justly opposes the tyranny of constituted authorities. "rat line" from Syria through which foreign fighters made their way to the jihad against the Americans.
The US military said six leaders of the smuggling smuggling, illegal transport across state or national boundaries of goods or persons liable to customs or to prohibition. Smuggling has been carried on in nearly all nations and has occasionally been adopted as an instrument of national policy, as by Great Britain operation run by Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI AQI Air Quality Index
AQI Al-Qaeda in Iraq
AQI Agricultural Quarantine Inspection
AQI Australian Questioning Intonation (aka upspeak or high rising terminal)
AQI Al-Qaeda Intelligence
AQi Intelligent Acoustic Quantification ) were killed in the gun battle. One was a senior commander known as Muthanna. Two other jihadis perished when one of them detonated a suicide vest of explosives.
The Sinjar camp was responsible for smuggling an estimated 90% of the foreign fighters who have entered Iraq along a 300km stretch of desert border running from Qaim, in flashpoint Anbar province, almost to the border with Turkey.
But the real triumph for the Americans was the vast treasure trove TREASURE TROVE. Found treasure.
2. This name is given to such money or coin, gold, silver, plate, or bullion, which having been hidden or concealed in the earth or other private place, so long that its owner is unknown, has been discovered by accident. of documents and records kept by the meticulous Muthanna found at Sinjar. These provided an unprecedented insight into how the smuggling operation functions, as well as unique snapshots of the kind of men who go to Iraq to join the jihad.
The Sinjar records, including many photos of the incoming volunteers, "are one of the deepest reservoirs of information we've ever obtained of the network going into Iraq," said one US counter-terrorism specialist. Another official dubbed them "an Al Qaeda rolodex".
The documents have prompted the US military in Iraq to reassess its earlier assumptions about AQI, how it functions and how it relates to the wider Al Qaeda network.
"During this operation we also captured multiple documents and electronic files that provided insight into Al Qaeda's foreign terrorist operations, not only in Iraq but throughout the region," said Major General Kevin Bergner, the US military spokesman in Baghdad. "They detailed the larger Al Qaeda effort to organise, coordinate and transport foreign terrorists into Iraq and other places."
The mass of documentation underlined how the jihadist Noun 1. Jihadist - a Muslim who is involved in a jihad
Moslem, Muslim - a believer in or follower of Islam movement has its own bureaucracy, possibly a legacy of Osama bin Laden's propensity for running AI Qaeda like a business corporation.
The Sinjar documents were analysed for weeks by the US Army's Combatting Terrorism Centre at West Point, the US military academy which has issued a 30-page report on its findings.
The records listed the identities of 606 foreigners who entered Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007, and contained background material on about 100 others.
All entrants were required to fill out questionnaires, although some of the responses were more detailed than others, but the details that emerged were highly illuminating for the American analysts.
Brian Fishman, co-author of the West Point report with fellow associate Joseph Felter, said that with AQI having hundreds of foreign volunteers "entering the country with different skill sets and different intentions, you have to build a bureaucracy to use your resources efficiently.
"I think we made a mistake in assuming that Al Qaeda, because it's a terrorist organisation, doesn't need to organise itself the way other large organisations do. They have a human resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees. problem; they have to manage people."
The Sinjar bonanza included copies of an employment contract that Al Qaeda used in Afghanistan in the late 1990s. As well as containing a pledge of loyalty by recruits and defining their religious duties, it also listed official holidays observed by the movement and members' pay grades. Married men got more than single men, as well as a bonus for every child they produced.
Married volunteers were allowed time off every three weeks and round-trip tickets home every two years, although Al Qaeda reserved the right to block vacation dates "in certain cases". Vacation requests had to be submitted two-and-a-half months in advance.
The Sinjar documents also produced some surprising statistics--244, or 41%, of the jihadis were Saudi and 112, or 18.8%, were Libyan. Previous research found no more than 4% were Libyan.
Libya thus produced--at least in the period covered by the records--more militants per capita [Latin, By the heads or polls.] A term used in the Descent and Distribution of the estate of one who dies without a will. It means to share and share alike according to the number of individuals. than any other country. Overall, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop. and Libya, both considered US allies in George Bush's war on terror This article is about U.S. actions, and those of other states, after September 11, 2001. For other conflicts, see Terrorism.
The War on Terror (also known as the War on Terrorism , provided 60% of the foreign fighters who entered Iraq in the 2006-07 period, and may still be doing so.
This should not strain Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's new relationship with the US. Once branded a key supporter of international terrorism Noun 1. international terrorism - terrorism practiced in a foreign country by terrorists who are not native to that country
act of terrorism, terrorism, terrorist act - the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain , the mercurial mercurial /mer·cu·ri·al/ (mer-kur´e-il)
1. pertaining to mercury.
2. a preparation containing mercury.
adj. Libyan leader is now back in Washington's good books See how to find a good computer book. after turning over a new leaf A New Leaf (1971) is a black comedy based on a short story by Jack Ritchie, starring Elaine May, Walter Matthau, George Rose and James Coco. Better known for her collaboration as a stage comedienne with The Graduate , renouncing terrorism in 2003 and abandoning his clandestine nuclear programme.
The US removed Libya from its blacklist (1) A list of e-mail addresses of known spammers. See spam, spam filter, Blacklist of Internet Advertisers, greylisting and blackholing. Contrast with white list.
(2) A list of Web sites that are considered off limits or dangerous. of states supporting international terrorism in 2006. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice even hailed Libya's "commitment to its renunciation The Abandonment of a right; repudiation; rejection.
The renunciation of a right, power, or privilege involves a total divestment thereof; the right, power, or privilege cannot be transferred to anyone else. of terrorism and the excellent cooperation" it provided for George Bush's war against terror. How Washington squares The Washington Squares were a 1980s neo-beatnik folk revival music group. Modeled after early 1960s groups like the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary (PP&M), the group was named after New York City's Washington Square Park, emblematic of Greenwich Village. that with the large number of Libyan jihadis flowing into Iraq to fight the Americans and their Iraqi allies remains to be seen.
The Sinjar documents showed that most of the Libyans hailed from hotbeds of Islamic extremism in northeastern Libya such as the cities of Darnah and Benghazi, and from the towns of Ras Al Helal and Al Qubbah in the mountainous Jebel Al Akhdar region. Darnah provided 50 fighters, the largest number of volunteers from any single city anywhere in the world.
The Libyans got to Iraq through "a well-established smuggling route" to Syria through Egypt, another key US ally in the region. Ayman Al Zawahiri, ostensibly os·ten·si·ble
Represented or appearing as such; ostensive: His ostensible purpose was charity, but his real goal was popularity. Osama bin Laden's No.2 but who seems to be playing an increasingly important role in running Al Qaeda Central, and other jihadist leaders have gone out of their way of late to praise the Libyan volunteers.
"There is a rising leadership cadre of Libyan in Al Qaeda," said Vahid Brown, an analyst with West Point's Terrorism Centre. "Egyptians have really dominated strategic and military operations This is a list of missions, operations, and projects. Missions in support of other missions are not listed independently. World War I
''See also List of military engagements of World War I
North Africans now comprise one of the mainstays of the jihadist war in Iraq. The Sinjar documents, bolstered by other intelligence, showed that 291 fighters--about 39% of those listed--came from the Maghreb during the period covered.
That's far higher than earlier estimates of 10-13% and underlines the recent drive by Al Qaeda Central to forge a united jihadist force across the Maghreb built around the battle-hardened veterans in Algeria. Western intelligence agencies fear that the Maghreb groups, which have deep-rooted links with Muslim communities in Western Europe Western Europe
The countries of western Europe, especially those that are allied with the United States and Canada in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (established 1949 and usually known as NATO). , will be used to carry out major operations there.
Another striking point in the Sinjar material was the small number of volunteers from countries that had been thought to be major suppliers of jihadis. As recently as summer 2007, US officials estimated that 30% came from Syria and Lebanon. But there were no Lebanese listed in the Sinjar papers and only 56 Syrians, or 8% of the total.
The average age of the foreign jihadis listed was 24-25. The oldest fighter was 54, the youngest aged 15. They came from all walks of life--plumbers, police officers, mechanics, labourers, several unemployed. One said he was a "weapons merchant". Another gave his occupation as "massage specialist". There was even a muezzin.
Many were well educated--nearly 43% of the 157 who listed their occupation were students. Others said they were teachers, doctors and engineers.
Mohammed Ayn Al Nas, a 26-year-old Moroccan, arrived in Iraq on 31 January, 2007, after flying from Casablanca to Istanbul and then on to Damascus. He listed his "work" as a student of economics. In answer to what he expected to do in Iraq, he said "martyr".
Mohammed Abdel-Qadir bin Qassem, a 26-year-old Arabic language Arabic language
Ancient Semitic language whose dialects are spoken throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Though Arabic words and proper names are found in Aramaic inscriptions, abundant documentation of the language begins only with the rise of Islam, whose main texts teacher, travelled from Darnah in Libya to Syria, where he paid a man named Abu Umar 2,000 Syrian pounds to get him across the border with Iraq. He told the AQI official who interviewed him when he arrived on 7 June, 2007, that he was ready to offer his life for the cause.
Abdullah Abed A1 Sulaimani was the baby of the group. He arrived on 23 September, 2006, three months after his 15th birth day. He contributed all his money, $620, his watch and his cellphone (CELLular telePHONE) The first ubiquitous wireless telephone. Originally analog, all new cellular systems are digital, which has enabled the cellphone to turn into a smartphone that has access to the Internet. to the cause.
The youthfulness of the fighters suggests they were largely first-time volunteers rather than hardened veterans, pointing to an emergent threat to the regimes in their home countries once the fighters, seasoned in Iraq, return to their native lands.
"If there was a major influx of veteran jihadis into Iraq, it may have come earlier in the war," the West Point analysis noted. "The incitement in·cite
tr.v. in·cit·ed, in·cit·ing, in·cites
To provoke and urge on: troublemakers who incite riots; inciting workers to strike. See Synonyms at provoke. of a new generation of jihadis to join the fight in Iraq, or plan operations elsewhere, is one of the most worrisome aspects of the ongoing fight in Iraq."
Rear Admiral Gregory Smith
Gregory Edward Smith (born July 6, 1983) is a Canadian/American actor. , another US spokesman in Baghdad, said in January that up to 60% of foreign volunteers ended up becoming suicide bombers. The Sinjar documents showed that of the 389 volunteers who listed their "work" in Iraq in the questionnaires, more than half said they were interested in suicide operations.
Volunteers from Saudi Arabia appear to have carried out more suicide attacks than any other nationality. A recent survey of 124 suicide bombings found that 53 were carried out by Saudis. Volunteers from Italy and Syria both did eight.
Of the other bombers, seven were from Kuwait, four from Jordan, and two each from Belgium, France and Spain. Others came from North and East Africa, South Asia This article is about the geopolitical region in Asia. For geophysical treatments, see Indian subcontinent.
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia , Europe and other Middle Eastern states Eastern States can refer to several locations:
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the US military, by mid-October 2007 some 1,300 suicide volunteers had entered Iraq from Syria since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Another apparent consequence of the Sinjar raid was a reduction in the flow of foreign volunteers. At the beginning of 2007, US officials estimated that 80-100 a month were getting into Iraq. That fell to about 60 by mid-year, then slumped to about 40 a month in October. This was due in some degree to greater efforts by Syria and Saudi Arabia to tighten border controls during the year, but as the Sinjar document show, the fighters are still getting through.
How the Syrian 'rat lines' work
US COMMANDERS BELIEVE that 70% of the jihadis who are smuggled smug·gle
v. smug·gled, smug·gling, smug·gles
1. To import or export without paying lawful customs charges or duties.
2. To bring in or take out illicitly or by stealth. into Iraq travel through Syria. The foreigners are met at Damascus International Airport Damascus International Airport (Arabic, مطار دمشق الدولي) (IATA: DAM, ICAO: OSDI) is a public airport located in Damascus, the capital of Syria. by AI Qaeda facilitators who disperse them in a series of safe houses and mosques in the Syrian capital and in the northern city of Aleppo.
Earlier intelligence lists the names of some of these facilitators Abdul Al Jabar, Mahmour Terad, Mahrnoud Jerala and Hussein Hawawi. Mahmoud Imaz, also known as Khalid AlTurki, was identified as the top smuggler.
Many of the incoming jihadis are given some training and pep talks by radical imams before being given new identities and instructions on how to enter the "rat lines" across the border into Iraq. The Sinjar records shed some light on these operations.
The Syrian role seems to be more entrepreneurial than political: AQI relies heavily on mercenaries and criminal gangs to funnel the volunteers into Iraq, rather than ideologically motivated jihadis. This apparently causes some concern and suspicion within AQI and some US analysts believe this is a weakness that should be exploited.
"if Al Qaeda's Syrian logistics networks are truly run by mercenaries, there are many policy options available to co-opt or manipulate them," a West Point report noted. "it is almost inconceivable that Syrian intelligence has not already tried to penetrate these networks, but that does not preclude American agencies from attempting the same."