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George Bush's Al Qaeda Lies Exposed

President Bush is misleading troops about who they are (and are not) fighting in Iraq.
 
 
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President Bush makes fallacious connections between Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Al Qaeda who attacked the US on 9/11. "Some say that Iraq is not a part of the broader war on terror. They claim that the organization called al Qaeda in Iraq is an Iraqi phenomenon -- that it's independent of Osama bin Laden and it's not interested in attacking America. That would be news to Osama bin Laden. I presented intelligence that clearly establishes this connection. The facts are that al Qaeda terrorists killed Americans on 9/11, they're fighting us in Iraq and across the world, and they're plotting to kill Americans here at home again." [CNN, 7/24/07 ]

The nation's 16 intelligence agencies agree that Al Qaeda has regenerated its ability to strike at the United States through its bases on the Afghan-Pakistan Border. "We assess the group has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safe haven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership." [National Intelligence Estimate, 7/07 ]

 

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Al-Qaeda "was only 10% of the problem in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, its prime minister, lacked the political will to establish an effective government." He went on to say that even even if the military surge has been a partial success in areas such as Anbar province, where Sunni tribes have turned on Al-Qaeda, it has not been accompanied by the vital political and economic "surge" and reconciliation process promised by the Iraqi government. [The London Sunday Times, 7/8/07 ]

Al Qaeda in Iraq is not the same as Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Some of the extremists in Iraq have chosen to call themselves "Al Qaeda in Iraq," and they are in fact inspired by Osama Bin Laden's extremist ideology. While there is some level of cooperation and exchange of information, these groups did not exist in Iraq prior to the invasion in 2003.


President Bush argues that "Al Qaeda is public enemy number one in Iraq. Al Qaeda is public enemy number one for the Iraqi people. Al Qaeda is public -- public enemy number one for the American people." [President Bush, 7/24/07 ]

Al Qaeda in Iraq accounts for 15% of the violence in Iraq. "Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International studies says, the U.S. military estimates that al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group thought to number several thousand, accounts for only about 15% of the attacks in Iraq." [Time, 7/30/07 ]


Foreign Jihadist fighters make up less than 10% of the insurgency.
Most intelligence estimates still state that the vast majority of Sunni insurgents are Iraqi. They are not driven by a pan-Islamic ideology of destroying the West and creating a caliphate. Instead, they are fighting either against American forces or against other ethnic groups in Iraq. [Center for American Progress, 6/25/07 ]

 

The Al Qaeda Threat: Myth vs. Reality

The National Intelligence Estimate reaffirmed that the Bush Administration has made Americans less secure by taking its focus off the real danger in Afghanistan and Pakistan and instead invading Iraq. Almost six years since 9/11, Al Qaeda has established a new safe haven on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and has taken advantage of the operational space afforded by a poorly conceived truce between the Pakistani government and tribal leaders. Meanwhile the invasion of Iraq has fed the Al Qaeda narrative and created a new focal point for the recruitment, fundraising, training and indoctrination of Al Qaeda operatives. Unfortunately, the Administration's response to all of these problems is to continue to pour more troops and funds into Iraq, even as military strategists have concluded that sectarian violence and civil war - not Al Qaeda - are the greatest dangers in the war torn country.

Al Qaeda is Growing Stronger in Pakistan and Afghanistan

The nation's 16 intelligence agencies agree that Al Qaeda has regenerated its ability to strike at the United States through its bases on the Afghan-Pakistan Border. "We assess the group has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safe haven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership." [National Intelligence Estimate, 7/07 ]

Al Qaeda took advantage of an ill-conceived truce with Pakistani tribal leaders to gain strength. The truce has now broken apart. In the fall of 2006, the Pakistani government brokered an agreement with tribal and Taliban leaders on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The agreement allowed Al Qaeda and the Taliban to continue to operate freely as long as they did not spill over into Afghanistan or other parts of Pakistan. The deal was criticized at the time, and has given Al Qaeda and the Taliban a 10 month rest period to gather strength and increase the frequency of their attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The agreement is now officially off. [Washington Post, 7/16/07 ]

John Kringen, who heads the CIA's analysis directorate, agrees that Al Qaeda has been getting stronger. "They seem to be fairly well settled into the safe haven and the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan," Kringen testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee. "We see more training. We see more money. We see more communications. We see that activity rising." [NPR, 7/15/07 ]


In its new safe haven, Al Qaeda has had more flexibility to train terrorists and produce propaganda videos.
"While the northern area of Pakistan, much of which is controlled by local tribes, has always been a stronghold of the Taliban, it's now also home to a resurgent al Qaeda. New training camps have sprung up in the mountainous terrain, and the ease with which militants operate in the region even affords them time to produce the relatively high-quality training and propaganda videos frequently released by jihadist groups. Even the generals are fed up with the situation. "Even after five years of operations, what has been achieved? Osama bin Laden is still there, al Qaeda is still there, in fact it is spreading," Lt. General Ali Jan Mohammed Aurakzai (Ret.) said in February. Aurakzai is the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province. [CBS, 7/17/07 ]


Pakistan bombings raise fears of Taliban, al Qaeda resurgence.
"A series of bombings in recent days in northwestern Pakistan have killed at least 79 people and are spreading fears that the Taliban and al Qaeda have made a comeback. Militants linked to the Taliban in the area near the Afghan border say a truce reached with the Pakistani government last September is off. That deal has been blamed for an increase in attacks on U.S. troops over the border in Afghanistan, as Taliban fighters were able to prepare, train, and reconstitute weapons supplies without interference from the Pakistani government. Tensions in the region had been simmering for months, and recent events at Islamabad's Red Mosque triggered the fresh wave of violence." [CNN, 7/16/07 ]

The Invasion of Iraq has Strengthened Al Qaeda's Hand


The invasion of Iraq has created a new focal point for recruitment, fundraising, training and indoctrination of terrorists.
The Nation's 16 intelligence agencies agree: "We assess that al-Qa'ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa'ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks." [National Intelligence Estimate, 7/07 ]


Last year, the nation's 16 intelligence agencies concurred that Iraq is fueling global terrorism.
"We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere. The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight." [National Intelligence Estimate, 4/06 ]

Al Qaeda had no significant foothold in Iraq before the invasion. The US presence in Iraq has provided al Qaeda new base camps, new recruits and new prestige. Pentagon resources have been diverted from Afghanistan; where the military had a real chance to hunt down al Qaeda's leadership. It alienated essential allies in the war against terrorism and drained the strength and readiness of American troops. [NY Times, 7/8/07 ]


Iraq is a failing state, which is more likely to become a terrorist safe haven.
Foreign Policy magazine ranked Iraq as the second most unstable country in the world in its recently released Failed State Index. Only Sudan is considered more unstable. [Foreign Policy, July/August 2007 ]

Terrorist attacks around the rest of the Middle East have risen significantly since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. As of September 2006 there had been 37 attacks in Arab countries outside of Iraq since the invasion, while there were only 3 in the period between 9/11 and March 2003. The rate of attacks in Arab countries jumped by 445 percent since the Iraq invasion, while the rate of killings rose by 783 percent. [ Mother Jones ]


Al Qaeda in Iraq would likely be one of the biggest losers if American forces were drawn down.
The majority of Iraqis have already turned against Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Shi'a are the most powerful group in the country and would undoubtedly attempt to wipe out an Al Qaeda presence that has been perpetrating violence against them. Moreover, many of Al Qaeda's Sunni allies have also turned against it and without an American presence in Iraq it will be much harder for Al Qaeda to continue recruiting foreign fighters. [Center for American Progress, 6/25/07 ]


The real problem in Iraq is not Al Qaeda but multiple civil wars.
Shi'a are fighting Sunnis all over the country and in Baghdad. Shi'a are fighting each other in the South. Sunnis are fighting Sunnis in Anbar and Diyala. Sunnis are fighting Kurds in the North around Kirkuk and Mosul. [CSIS, 6/20/07 ]

 
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