Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pulling al-Qaeda's Lynchpins in Iraq Is Counterterrorism, Senator

[Steve Schippert]

In a major development in the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq, the United States has disclosed the Baghdad capture of a major al-Qaeda financier who funneled over $100,000,000 into Iraq this summer alone to fund al-Qaeda terrorists and purchase weapons and explosives.

Iraqi and US forces have detained a man they believe received 100 million dollars this summer from Al-Qaeda sympathisers to hand out for "terrorist" operations in Iraq, the US military said Thursday.

"The 100 million was what our intelligence reports indicate he has received spanning several months this year," US military spokesman Sam Hymas told AFP.

"That is all the unclassified information I can give you."A statement from the military said the man, who was detained in the central Baghdad neighbourhood of Al-Kindi, was suspected of handing over 50,000 dollars a month to Al-Qaeda using his leather merchant business as a front.

"He is believed to have received one hundred million dollars this summer from terrorist supporters who cross the border illegally or fly into Iraq from Italy, Syria and Egypt," the military said.

He is suspected of travelling abroad himself to seek money for Al-Qaeda and of employing up to 50 extremists to help deliver bomb-making materials to insurgents attacking the US-led coalition.

This news comes on the heels of information released yesterday that
US forces killed the al-Qaeda Emir of the Iraq/Syria Border, 'Muthanna,' in an operation back on September 11. Hundreds of documents were obtained after his death. Among them was a list of about 500 men recruited to fight with al-Qaeda in Iraq. Among the names were 143 detailed biographies.

"Muthanna was the emir of Iraq and Syrian border area and he was a key facility of the movement of foreign terrorists once they crossed into Iraq from Syria. He worked closely with Syrian-based al Qaeda foreign terrorist facilitators," he said.

Bergner told a news conference that the information discovered included 143 biographies of foreign recruits, with personal data, photographs, their recruiters' names, date of entry into Iraq and the route they took.

"They came from a range of foreign countries that included Libya, Morocco, Syria, Algeria, Oman, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom," he said.

"In other documents that we found included a formal pledge from foreign terrorists who were committed to suicide operations," Bergner said.

One curious detail considering the release of news today that a major al-Qaeda financier has been capture: Among the documents obtained from Muthanna's person were detailed expense reports.

The captured al-Qaeda financier brought funds into Iraq from sources outside the country, using Syria as the primary conduit for the terrorists bringing in the resources. Muthanna was in charge of terrorist transport and ingress from Syria into Iraq. The financier was captured after the intelligence trove obtained after Muthanna's killing (presumably, as no specific timeframe for the capture was announced.)

What we have are two major al-Qaeda assets rolled up — one still alive to tell more — and the principal conduits for al-Qaeda's human and financial resources import infrastructure seriously downgraded.

And just a few short moths ago, Sen. Charles Schumer demanded that the United States withdraw our military forces to the periphery and vacate the heart of Iraq in order to "change our mission and focus it more narrowly on counterterrorism, [and go] after al Qaeda camps that might arise in Iraq."

Withdrawing and waiting for an unfettered al-Qaeda to establish camps and brutally dominate Iraqi cities while doing so is not counterterrorism. It's insanity and, furthermore, completely dismissive of the security, safety, and wellbeing of the Iraqi people. Dropping huts and buildings of a terrorist training camp are not signs of effective counterterrorism.

The latest developments above surely confirm, "This Is Counterterrorism, Senator." The elimination of safe havens, the high rate of AQI foot-soldiers dying in our offensive ground operations, and the rolling up of leadership elements cannot be mistaken for anything else.

From the Tank at NRO.

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