West Point CTC's Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa'ida's Road In and Out of Iraq | Islamism | Mujahideen

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Published Jul 22, 2008, the report is the second to assess the demographics, procedures, finances, and leadership of al-Qa`ida’s foreign fighters, especially those currently fighting in Iraq. It analyzes al-Qa`ida in Iraq’s (AQI) operations from spring 2006 to summer 2007 and includes almost 600 AQI personnel records for foreign fighters crossing into Iraq, AQI contracts for suicide bombers, AQI contracts for fighters leaving Iraq, narratives written by al-Qa`ida’s Syrian smugglers, and AQI financial records.
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  Foreword   The   Combating   Terrorism   Center   at   West   Point   (CTC)   launched   the   Harmony   Project   in   order   to   release   and   analyze   documents   from   the   Department   of   Defense’s   classified   Harmony   Database.   The   Harmony   Project   unearths   and   releases   documents   that   reveal   the   inner ‐ functioning   of   al ‐ Qa`ida,   its   associated   movements,   and   other   security   threats.   Harmony   documents   released    by   the   CTC   are   always   accompanied    by   an   analytical   report,    but   the   primary   purpose   of   this   process   is   to   make   these   primary   sources   available   to   other   scholars.   Rather   than   the   final   word,   CTC   Harmony   reports   should    be   considered   an   invitation   to   further   scholarship.   This   is   the   CTC’s   fifth   major   Harmony   Report.   The   first,   Harmony   and   Disharmony:   al ‐ Qa`ida’s   Organizational   Vulnerabilities  ,   explored   ways   to   introduce   doubt   and   mistrust   into   al ‐ Qa`ida’s    bureaucracy.   The   second,   al ‐ Qa`ida’s   (mis)Adventures   in   the   Horn   of     Africa  ,   revealed   al ‐ Qa`ida’s   frustrated   efforts   to   infiltrate   East   Africa.   The   third,   Cracks   in   the   Foundation:   Leadership   Debates   in   al ‐ Qa`ida  ,   described   al ‐ Qa`ida’s   most   important   internal   disagreements,   including   on   the   wisdom   of   the   9/11   attacks.   The   fourth,   al ‐ Qa`ida’s   Foreign   Fighters   in   Iraq:    A   First   Look   at   the   Sinjar   Records  ,   was    based   on   al ‐ Qa`ida   in   Iraq’s   personnel   records   for   fighters   entering   Iraq   through   Syria.   This   report,   Bombers,   Bank    Accounts,   and   Bleedout:   al ‐ Qa`ida’s   Road   In   and   Out   of    Iraq  ,   expands   on   the   first   Sinjar   Report,   introducing   new   documents   and   new   analysis   to   provide   a    better   picture   of   al ‐ Qa`ida   in   Iraq’s   operations   and   its   prospects   for   the   future.   This   report   could   not   have    been   completed   with   the   support   of   numerous   people.   The   Department   of   Social   Sciences   at   West   Point,   led    by   Department   Head   Colonel   Michael   Meese   and   Deputy   Department   Head   Colonel   Cindy    Jebb,   constantly   encourage   the   CTC   to   continue   to   find   new   ways   of   understanding   contemporary   threats.   The   CTC   itself   is    blessed   with   exemplary   leadership.   Outgoing   Director   LTC    Joseph   Felter   has   led   the   CTC   with   tremendous   energy,   excitement,   and   focus.   The   Incoming   Director,   MAJ   Reid   Sawyer,   has   the   vision,   intelligence,   and   tenacity   to   lead   the   CTC   to   even   more   success.   1  Editor’s   Note   This   report   is   structured   differently   than   previous   Harmony   Reports.   Unlike   earlier   reports,   we   divided   this   text   into   chapters   credited   to   specific   authors.   The   views   expressed   in   this   report   are   those   of    the   authors   and   not   of    the   US    Military    Academy,   the   Department   of    the    Army,   or   any   other   agency   of    the   US   Government.   We   intentionally   approached   authors   with   very   different   perspectives:   academics,    journalists,   and   individuals   with   extensive   experience   traveling   on    both   sides   of   the   Syrian/Iraqi    border.   The   CTC   hopes   that   this   approach   demonstrates   how   Harmony   Documents   can    be   used    by   academics,    journalists,   and   government   agencies   to   understand   al ‐ Qa`ida   and   the   situation   in   Iraq.   Chapter   2,    by    Joseph   Felter   and   I,   is    based   largely   on   our   previous   CTC   report    based   on   the   Sinjar   Records,   al ‐ Qa`ida’s   Foreign   Fighters   in   Iraq:    A   First   Look   at   the   Sinjar   Records.   We   have   enjoyed   the   opportunity   to   take   a   second   look   at   these   documents.   Chapter   4,   which   is    based   almost   entirely   on   the   personal   travels   of   the   author,   is   written   anonymously   to   protect    both   the   author   and   his   sources   on   the   ground   in   Syria   and   Iraq.   It   has    been   a   pleasure   to   work   with   Peter   Bergen,   Vahid   Brown,    Joseph   Felter,   and    Jacob   Shapiro   on   this   project.   Their   insight   and   perspective   is   invaluable.   The   group   has   also    been   very   patient   as   we   worked   through   the   sometimes   frustrating   process   of   releasing   previously   classified   documents—a   process   slowed   further    by   my   own   travels   and   research   agenda.   Dr.   Assaf   Moghadam   provided   immense   support   to   the   production   of   this   report   and   to   reshaping   the   CTC’s   Harmony   Project.   Assaf’s   humility   and   professionalism   are   a   credit   to   him   and   an   example   to    both   his   colleagues   at   the   CTC   and   the   cadets   at   West   Point.   Katherine   Cleary   provided   exceptional   support   as   well.   She   copy ‐ edited   the   entire   project,   finding   and   fixing   many   substantive   and   grammatical   miscues.   The   report   is    better    because   of   her   effort.   For   questions   about   this   report,   please   contact   the   individual   authors   directly   or   Brian   Fishman   at:    brian.fishman@usma.edu.   Brian   Fishman    July   22,   2008   2  Table   of   Contents   1.   Executive   Summary   Key   Findings   Policy   Recommendations   2.   Introduction   3.    Figures:    Maps,   Tables,   Charts   4.   Bombers,   Bank    Accounts   and   Bleedout:    Al ‐ Qa`ida’s   Road   In   and   Out    of    Iraq   Chapter   1.   Foreign   Fighters   in   Historical   Perspective:   The   Case   of   Afghanistan   By   Vahid   Brown   Chapter   1   explains   the   role   foreign   fighters   played   during   the   anti ‐ Soviet    Jihad   in   Afghanistan   during   the   1980s,   providing   context   that   is   critical   to   understanding   the   role   that   foreign   fighters   currently   play   in   Iraq.   Brown’s   discussion   of   Afghan   Arabs   alienating   local   Afghani   mujahidin   is   particularly   relevant   considering   the   formation   of   anti ‐ al ‐ Qa`ida   movements   in   Iraq.   The   chapter   also   helps   us   measure   the   prospect   of   foreign   fighters   in   Iraq   contributing   to   violent   movements   outside   of   Iraq,   whether   in   the   Arab   world,   Europe,   or   the   United   States.   Chapter   2.   The   Demographics   of   Recruitment,   Finances,   and   Suicide   By    Joseph   Felter   and   Brian   Fishman   In   Chapter   2,   Felter   and   Fishman   expand   on   their   preliminary   analysis   of   the   Sinjar   Records   released   in   December   2007.   Incorporating   even   more   data   on   foreign   fighters   in   Iraq   and   using   new   analytical   techniques,   Felter   and   Fishman   assess   the   factors   that   may   have   contributed   to   foreign   fighters   traveling   to   Iraq   and   explore   the   networks   that   funnel   those   fighters   to   Iraq.   They   provide   the   first   hard   evidence   that   foreign   fighters   of   Saudi   srcin   contribute   more   money   to   al ‐ Qa`ida   in   Iraq   (AQI)   than   individuals   from   other   countries,   explore   the   dynamics   of   AQI’s   logistics   networks   in   Syria,   and   offer   an   open ‐ source   assessment   of   the   percentage   of   suicide   attacks   in   Iraq   committed    by   foreign   fighters.   3
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