Friday, August 24, 2007

Insurgents: It's not about jihad after all

The following article reveals two things about insurgents who've been captured. First, the "vast majority" of them are not religious fanatics. They're simply angry about unemployment and other economic woes the occupation has imposed on them. And second, the proportion of foreign insurgents is minuscule, and most of them come from countries that are our allies. Not one of them is Iranian.

Number of Iraqis Held by U.S. Is Swelling - New York Times

[Emphasis mine]

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 — The number of detainees held by the American-led military coalition in Iraq has swelled by 50 percent under the troop increase ordered by President Bush, with the inmate population growing from 16,000 in February to 24,500 today, according to American military officers in Iraq.

Nearly 85 percent of the detainees in custody are Sunni Arabs, the minority faction in Iraq that ruled the country under the government of Saddam Hussein, with the other detainees being Shiite Muslims, the officers say.

Of the Sunni detainees, about 1,800 claim allegiance to a group that calls itself Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, military officers said. Another 6,000 identify themselves as takfiris, meaning Muslims who believe some other Muslims are not true believers. Such extremists view Shiite Muslims as heretics.

Those statistics would seem to indicate that the main inspiration of the hard-core Sunni insurgency is no longer a desire to restore the old order — a movement that drew from former Baath party members and security officials who served under Mr. Hussein — and has become religious and ideological.

But military officers say a large number Iraqi detainees say money is a significant reason they planted roadside bombs or shot at coalition and Iraqi forces.

“Interestingly, we’ve found that the vast majority are not inspired by jihad or hate for the coalition or Iraqi government — the vast majority are inspired by money,” said Capt. John Fleming of the Navy, who is spokesman for coalition detainee operations in Iraq.

“The primary motivator is economic — they’re angry men because they don’t have jobs,” he said. “The detainee population is overwhelmingly illiterate and unemployed. Extremists have been very successful at spreading their ideology to economically strapped Iraqis with little to no formal education.”

According to statistics supplied by the headquarters of Task Force 134, the American military unit in command of detention operations in Iraq, there are about 280 detainees from countries other than Iraq. Of those, 55 are identified as Egyptian, 53 as Syrian, 37 as Saudi, 28 as Jordanian and 24 as Sudanese.


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At 8/24/07, 5:48 PM, Blogger Gail Jonas said...

Very good, Bonnie. I'm also wondering about the success of the military surge. Juan Cole of Informed Comment, ( the positive stats coming from the administration a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't seen anything lately.

Of course, even if the military surge is working, the news today is that the Iraqi government is so broken that it can't move forward even if violence is down.


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