I've never figured out the logic behind the Bush Administration's meme that the Iraq War is necessary to keep "the enemy contained," otherwise they would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. Excuse me, but Shia and Sunni combatants are aching to bring their centuries-long squabble to my front porch? No, the idea is that Iraq acts like flypaper to attract and hold all the bad guys to one spot. Except it doesn't. Not only that, it provides a training ground for future terrorists, and it bolsters Osama bin Laden's appeal to Muslims that "the West" is waging a new crusade against Islam.
[T]he Iraq conflict has motivated jihadists around the world to see their particular struggle as part of a wider global jihad fought on behalf of the Islamic ummah, the global community of Muslim believers. The Iraq War had a strong impact in jihadist circles in the Arab world and Europe, but also on the Taliban, which previously had been quite insulated from events elsewhere in the Muslim world. By energizing the jihadist groups, the Iraq conflict acted as a catalyst for the increasing globalization of the jihadist cause, a trend that should be deeply troubling for American policymakers. In the late 1990s, bin Laden pushed a message of a global jihad and attracted recruits from around the Muslim world to train and fight in Afghanistan. The Iraq War has made bin Laden's message of global struggle even more persuasive to militants.
These are among the findings in a must-read study in the upcoming Mother Jones. The complete report documents how jihadist terrorism has increased worldwide, and how Iraq is indeed a magnet for terror trainees, who take what they learn and apply it elsewhere in the "globalization of martyrdom."
It's all part of an excellent series, Iraq 101, which brings together a commendable compendium of facts, figures and findings. And it gives us plenty to worry about.
Al Qaeda has not let the Iraq War distract it from targeting the United States and her allies. In a January 19, 2006 audiotape, Osama bin Laden himself refuted President Bush's argument that Iraq had distracted and diverted Al Qaeda: "The reality shows that that the war against America and its allies has not remained limited to Iraq, as he claims, but rather, that Iraq has become a source and attraction and recruitment of qualified people.... As for the delay in similar [terrorist] operations in America, [the] operations are being prepared, and you will witness them, in your own land, as soon as preparations are complete."
Hat tip to Kevin Drum at Political Animal for highlighting the stats.