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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point

Authors Note
AlQaidasForeignFightersinIraq:AFirstLookattheSinjarRecordsisthelatestina seriesofreportsfromtheCombatingTerrorismCenterdrawingonnewly releasedinformationfromcapturedalQaidadocumentsmaintainedinthe DefenseDepartmentsHarmonyDataBase.Thereportisapreliminaryanalysis ofrecordscontainingbackgroundinformationonforeignfightersenteringIraq viaSyriaoverthelastyear.ThedatausedinthisreportwascodedfromEnglish translationsoftheserecordsandundoubtedlycontainssomeinaccuraciesdueto imprecisetranslationaswellasthrougherrorsinthetranscriptionprocess.The CTCplansfurtherstudiesbasedontheSinjarRecordsandexpectstohoneand improvetheaccuracyofourdatabaseaswedoso. TheauthorsthankJamesPhillips,CTCHarmonyProjectManager,forsignificant assistancecoordinatingandcompilingtheinformationanddocumentsaswellas CTCStaffmembersSherwetWitherington,VahidBrown,andWarrenPolensky fortheirresearchandeditorialsupport.WealsothankColonelMikeMeeseand ColonelCindyJebbHeadandDeputyHeadoftheUSMilitaryAcademy DepartmentofSocialSciencesfortheircontinuedsupportoftheCTCs HarmonyProject. TheviewsexpressedinthisreportaretheauthorsanddonotreflecttheU.S. MilitaryAcademy,theDepartmentofDefense,ortheU.S.Government.

JosephFelterandBrianFishman
CombatingTerrorismCenter DepartmentofSocialSciences USMilitaryAcademy WestPoint,NewYork 8459388495 Joseph.felter@usma.edu,Brian.fishman@usma.edu

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point

Introduction
OnDecember4,2007AbuUmaralBaghdadi,thereputedEmirofalQaidas IslamicStateofIraq(ISI),claimedthathisorganizationwasalmostpurelyIraqi, containingonly200foreignfighters. 1 Twelvedayslater,onDecember16,2007, AymanalZawahiriurgedSunnisinIraqtounitebehindtheISI.Bothstatements arepartofalQaidasongoingstruggletoappealtoIraqis,manyofwhomresent theISIsforeignleadershipanditsdesiretoimposestrictIslamiclaw. InNovember2007,theCombatingTerrorismCenteratWestPointreceived nearly700recordsofforeignnationalsthatenteredIraqbetweenAugust2006 andAugust2007.Thedatacompiledandanalyzedinthisreportisdrawnfrom thesepersonnelrecords,whichwascollectedbyalQaidasIraqiaffiliates,first theMujahidinShuraCouncil(MSC)andthentheIslamicStateofIraq(ISI).The recordscontainvaryinglevelsofinformationoneachfighter,butofteninclude thefighterscountryoforigin,hometown,age,occupation,thenameofthe fightersrecruiter,andeventheroutethefightertooktoIraq.Therecordswere capturedbycoalitionforcesinOctober2007inaraidnearSinjar,alongIraqs Syrianborder.Althoughthereissomeambiguityinthedata,itislikelythatall ofthefighterslistedintheSinjarRecordscrossedintoIraqfromSyria.TheSinjar RecordsexistencewasfirstreportedbyTheNewYorkTimesRichardOppel, whowasprovidedapartialsummaryofthedata. 2 TheCombatingTerrorismCenterispleasedtomaketheSinjarRecordspublicly availableforthefirsttime.EnglishtranslationsoftheRecordscanbeaccessedat http://www.ctc.usma.edu/harmony/FFBiosTrans.pdfandtherecordsintheir originalArabictextathttp://www.ctc.usma.edu/harmony/Foreign_Fighter_Bios Orig.pdf. 3 ThepurposeofthisinitialassessmentoftheSinjarRecordsisto providescholarsaccesstothisuniquedata,inthehopethattheirscholarshipwill complementandcompetewithourown.TheCTCplansamore comprehensivestudyonIraqsforeignfightersforreleaseinearly2008. 4

Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, For the Scum Disappears Like Froth Cast Out, posted to www.muslm.net on December 4, 2007. 2 Richard Oppel, Foreign Fighters in Iraq Are Tied to Allies of the U.S., The New York Times, November 22, 2007, online at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/22/world/middleeast/22fighters.html 3 Information recorded from these documents and used to generate the summary statistics is available in spread sheet form on request. Please send request for this data to ctcharmony@usma.edu 4 For access to all captured documents released to the CTC and the CTCs previous reports incorporating this information see: http://www.ctc.usma.edu/harmony

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point TheCTChasnotalteredtheSinjarRecordsexcepttoformattheminamoreuser friendlymannerfordistribution.TheCTCcannotvouchfortheauthenticityor accuracyoftheserecords,excepttoconfirmtheywereauthorizedforreleaseby theU.Sgovernment,whichiswhytheserecordsarepresentedintheirentirety. TheCTCdoesnotredactorclassifyinformation. Readersshouldbeawarethatanalyzingdatacapturedonabattlefieldisfraught withrisk.Someofthepersonnelrecordswerefilledoutincompletelyor improperly,somemayhavebeenlostbyalQaidaspersonnelinIraq,andsome mayhavebeenaccidentallylostordestroyedbyU.S.forces.TheSinjarRecords areanastoundingtestimonytoalQaidasimportationoffighterstoIraq,but theyareaninherentlyimperfectrecord.Readersandresearchersshouldbewary ofconclusionsdrawnsolelyonthebasisoftheserecords.

Background
AlQaidasalliesbeganmovingintoIraqevenbeforeU.S.forcesenteredthe countryinearly2003.AfterfleeingAfghanistanandtraversingIran,Abu MusabalZarqawislippedintoNorthernIraqsometimein2002.Atthattime, ZarqawisorganizationwascalledTawhidwalJihad(MonotheismandStruggle) andwasbuiltaroundabackboneofJordanians,Syrians,andKurdsthateither rushedtojoinhiminIraqorhadbeenworkingwiththeKurdistanbasedjihadi group,AnsaralIslam. ZarqawididnotjoinalQaidauntilOctober2004,whenhesworeallegianceto UsamabinLadin.TheneworganizationwascalledTanzimQaidatalJihadfi BiladalRafidaynwhichwascommonlyknownintheWestasalQaidainIraq (AQI).TheagreementbetweenZarqawiandhisnewmastersbeliedimportant disagreementsthatremainedevenafterZarqawiformallyjoinedalQaida. ZarqawiwassometimescriticalofalQaidaswillingnesstocooperatewith apostatesagainstotherenemiesand,unlikeBinLadin,ferventlyarguedthat alQaidasNearEnemyapostatesandtheShiaweremoredangerousthan itsFarEnemytheUnitedStatesandtheWest. 5 AlQaidainIraqworkedhardtorecruitIraqisandbuildcordialrelationships withnationalistandBaathistinsurgentsinIraq,butitsbrutaltacticsand
5

For more on these and other disagreements within al-Qaidas leadership see the CTCs recent Harmony report, Cracks in the Foundation: Leadership Schisms Within al-Qaida 1989-2006 at http://www.ctc.usma.edu/aq/aq3.asp

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point religiousconservatismalienatedmoreIraqisthanitattracted.InJanuary2006, afterbloodybattleswithnationalistinsurgentgroupsandZarqawisillfated attackonthreehotelsinAmman,Jordan,AQIsubsumeditselfwithinan umbrellagroupcalledMajlisShuraalMujahidin(MujahidinShuraCouncil MSC).AlQaidainIraqstillexisted,buttheMSCwasausefulwaytogiveAQI aconciliatoryandIraqiface.Zarqawiwasatremendouslysuccessful propagandist,buthiswantonviolencewasincreasinglycontroversialamong Iraqissufferingtheravagesofcivilwar.Meanwhile,theMSCwasostensiblyled byAbdullahRashidalBaghdadi,anamethatimpliesthemanwasIraqi. AfterZarqawisdeathinJune2006,AQIquicklyreplacedhimwithAbuHamzah alMuhajir,amantheUnitedStatesidentifiedasanEgyptiannamedAbuAyyub alMasri.TheSinjarRecordsbeginshortlythereafter,andmanyaredocumented onMSCletterhead. InOctober2006,alMuhajirannouncedtheformationoftheDawlatalIraqal Islamiyya(IslamicStateofIraqISI),andnamedAbuUmaralBaghdadi,another purportedIraqi,itsEmir.LiketheMSC,theISIwasdesignedtoputanIraqiface onalQaidaseffortsintheinsurgency,buttheneworganizationwasintended tobemuchmoresubstantivethanitspredecessor.UnliketheMSC,theISI totallysupplanteditsconstituentorganizations.Foritsfollowers,alQaidano longerexistsinIraq,onlytheISI. TheISIwasmeanttounifyresistancetoU.S.occupation,inspiresupportfromal QaidasglobalsupportersbyimposingIslamiclaw,andensurethatalQaida waspreparedincaseofaprecipitousU.S.withdrawalfromIraq.Today,theISI bolstersitsreligiousauthoritybyreleasingreligiousinstructionstofollowersand hascreatedafacadeofgovernancebyestablishingacabinetthatevenincludesa MinistryofAgricultureandFisheries. Despitetheseefforts,theISIwaspoorlyconceivedandislargelyfailing.Asthe ISItriedtoimposeorder,italienatedtheIraqipopulationandotherSunni insurgents;meanwhileitsweaknesshasleftitunabletocrediblyprovidesecurity forIraqisorimposethereligiousstricturesexpectedbyalQaidasglobal supporters.TheU.S.spokesmaninBaghdad,GeneralKevinBergner,even claimedtohaveintelligencethatAbuUmaralBaghdadiisafictitiouscharacter createdtofronttheISIwhilenonIraqispulledthestrings. 6
Dean Yates, Senior Qaeda Figure in Iraq a Myth: U.S. Military, Reuters, July 18, 2007, online at http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSL1820065720070718?sp=true
6

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point ThesheermagnitudeoffighterslistedintheSinjarRecordschallengesAbu UmaralBaghdadisreassurancesthathisorganizationisbuiltonalocal foundation.Althoughtherecordsarenotnecessarilyinconsistentwithhisclaim thatthereareonly200foreignfightersleftinIraq,thescopeofalQaidas programtoimportfighterstoIraqbelieshisefforttoconvinceIraqisthattheISI isaninherentlyIraqiorganization.ThereisnodoubtthatalQaidasIraqi affiliatessuccessfullyrecruitedmanyIraqis,buttheleadershipofboththeMSC andtheISIremainlargelyforeign.Thus,theSinjarRecordsexemplifyal QaidasfundamentalstrategicchallengeinIraq:meldingtheideological demandsofitsglobalconstituencywiththepracticalconcernsofrelatively secularIraqis. MostofIraqsmilitantsdonotsufferthatstrategicproblem.Thevastmajorityof militantsinIraqhavenothingtodowithalQaida,andtheyarefocusedonIraqi problems:security,distributionofpowerandmoney,andsectarianism.Those insurgentsareamixofSunninationalists,Bathists,Shiamilitias,andIslamist organizations.MistakinganyofthesegroupsforalQaidaisnotsimplywrong, itisdangerous. TheISIspoliticalfailureshouldnotobscurethefactthatIraqhasinspired thousandsofyoungmenfromaroundtheworldtojoinalQaidascause.The SinjarRecordsareimportantnotjustforwhattheytellusaboutalQaidas affiliatesinsideofIraq,butalsoforwhattheyrevealaboutitslogisticaland recruitingcapabilitiesoutside.Thisanalysiswillexploresomeofthose dynamics.Asstatedabove,theCTCwillreturntothesubjectinearly2008.We offerthisdataandpreliminaryanalysisnowinthehopethatotherresearchers willoffertheirowninsightsintothestrengthsandweaknessesofalQaida.

DescriptionoftheData
TheCTCreceivedacacheofmorethan700recordsfromUSSOCOM.After eliminatingblanksandduplicates,theCTCexamined606translatedrecordsof fightersthat,webelieve,enteredIraqviatheSyrianborder.Theserecords containedvaryingamountsofdetailonthefighterspersonalbackground,group affiliation,traveltoSyria,andintendedroleinIraq.Somerecordshad considerablymoredetailthanothers.

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Figure1andFigure2belowareexamplesofatypicalrecordinthissamplein bothoriginalArabicandinEnglishtranslation.Readersmaynotespelling mistakesintheoriginalandtranslatedversions,andvaryingtransliterations. Figure1:SampleRecordinOriginalArabicFigure2:TranslatedSampleRecord

Initial Findings
CountryofOrigin SaudiArabiawasbyfarthemostcommonnationalityofthefightersinthis sample;41%(244)ofthe595recordsthatincludedthefightersnationality indicatedtheywereofSaudiArabianorigin. 7 Libyawasthenextmostcommoncountryoforigin,with18.8%(112)ofthe fighterslistingtheirnationalitystatingtheyhailedfromLibya.Syria,Yemen,
After recording and comparing the information contained in the translated records, the CTC determined that 34 records were likely duplicates of the same individual. These records were deleted from the sample studied.
7

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point andAlgeriawerethenextmostcommonorigincountrieswith8.2%(49),8.1% (48),and7.2%(43),respectively.Moroccansaccountedfor6.1%(36)ofthe recordsandJordanians1.9%(11). 8 Figure3:ForeignFightersbyCountryofOrigin

Foreign Fighters Country of Origin


Based on 595 records stating country of origin

Algeria Egypt Jordan Libya Morocco Other Saudi Arabia Syria Tunisia Yemen 0 50 100 150 Number of Records 200 250

TheobviousdiscrepancybetweenpreviousstudiesofIraqiforeignfightersand theSinjarRecordsisthepercentageofLibyanfighters.(SeeAppendix1fora briefsummaryofpreviousforeignfighterstudies.)Nopreviousstudyhas indicatedthatmorethan4percentoffighterswereLibyan.Indeed,aJune2005 reportbyNBCquotedaU.S.governmentsourceindicatingthatLibyadidnot makeatoptenlistoforiginnationalitiesforforeignfightersinIraq. 9 Aslateas July15,2007,theLosAngelesTimescitedaU.S.Armysourcereportingthatonly 10percentofallforeignfightersinIraqhailedfromNorthAfrica. 10 TheSinjar Recordssuggestthatnumberismuchhigher.Almost19percentofthefighters intheSinjarRecordscamefromLibyaalone.Furthermore,Libyacontributedfar
The Other category included two fighters from France and one fighter each from Bosnia, Belgium, England, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Sudan and Sweden. 9 Lisa Meyers, Who are the Foreign Fighters? MSNBC, June 20, 2005, online at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8293410/ 10 Ned Parker, Saudis Role in Iraq Insurgency Outlined, The Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2007, online at http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/fairenough/latimesA98.html
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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point morefighterspercapitathananyothernationalityintheSinjarRecords, includingSaudiArabia. Figure4:ForeignFightersPerCapita

Foreign Fighters Per Capita


Algeria Egypt Jordan Libya Morocco Saudi Arabia Syria Tunisia Yemen 0 5 10 15 20 Number of Fighters per One Million Residents in Home Country

ThepreviousreportsmayhavecollectivelyunderstatedtheLibyancontribution tothefightinIraq,buttherelativesynchronizationofearlieranalysessuggests thatthepatternofimmigrationtoIraqhassimplyshiftedovertime.Inan admittedlysmallsample,76.9%(30)ofthe39Libyansthatlistedtheirarrival dateinIraqenteredthecountrybetweenMayandJuly2007,whichmayindicate aspringsurgeofLibyanrecruitstoIraq.IfthenumberscitedbytheLos AngelesTimesinJuly2007areanyindication,eventheU.S.Armymayhave underestimatedtheLibyancontingentinIraq. TheapparentsurgeinLibyanrecruitstravelingtoIraqmaybelinkedtheLibyan IslamicFightingGroups(LIFG)increasinglycooperativerelationshipwithal Qaida,whichculminatedintheLIFGofficiallyjoiningalQaidaonNovember3, 2007.11
11

As-Sahab video released November 3, 2007, on the Al-Boraq Islamic Network; see OSC FEA20071104393586

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point InMarch2007,theLIFGsseniorideologue,AbuYahyaalLibi,weighedinonal QaidascontroversialdeclarationofanIslamicStateofIraq.Althoughjihadis globallyweredividedoverthestrategicwisdomandreligiousacceptabilityof declaringthestate,AbuYahyacalledforunityinIraq,andencouraged mujahidineverywheretosupporttheISI:
ourbrothersareinneedofthebackingandaidoftheMuslimpeoples,with theirbodiesandwealth,withshelterandprayer,andwithincitement.Thereis nowaytoestablishandpreservestatesotherthanJihadinthePathofAllahand Jihadalone....Thisisthepath,andanythingelseisfromthewhispersofSatan. 12

Whethertherewasaspring2007Libyansurgeornot,theLibyanpipelinetoIraq seemsfirmlyestablished.Thevastmajority(84.2%)ofLibyansthatrecorded theirroutetoIraqarrivedviathesamepathwayrunningthroughEgyptandthen byairtoSyria.ThisrecruitingandlogisticsnetworkislikelytiedtoLIFG,which haslongties(notallpositive)withEgyptianandAlgerianIslamistgroups. TheannouncementthatLIFGhadofficiallyswornallegiancetoalQaidawas longexpectedbyobserversofthegroup.BoththeideologueAbuYahyaalLibi andthemilitaryleaderAbuLaythalLibihavelonghistorieswiththeLIFG,and areincreasinglyprominentfiguresalongtheAfghanistanPakistanborderandin alQaidaspropaganda.AbuLaythisnowanoperationalcommanderin Afghanistan;andin2007,AbuYahyaissecondonlytoAymanalZawahiriasthe mostvisiblefigureinalQaidaspropaganda. 13 Theincreasingprominenceof LIFGfiguresinalQaidashighcommandmaybeafunctionofthegroups logisticscapacity,includingitsnowdemonstratedabilitytomovepeople effectivelyaroundtheMiddleEast,includingtoIraq. City/TownofOrigin Of591recordsthatincludedthecountryoforiginofthefighters,440also containedinformationonthehomecity/townthefightershailedfrom.Themost commoncitiesthatthefighterscalledhomewereDarnah,LibyaandRiyadh, SaudiArabia,with52and51fightersrespectively.Darnah,withapopulation justover80,000comparedtoRiaydhs4.3million,hasfarandawaythelargest percapitanumberoffightersintheSinjarrecords.Thenextmostcommon hometownsinrealtermslistedintheSinjarrecordswereMecca(43),Beghazi
Abu Yahya al-Libi, Iraq Between Stages, Conspiratorial Intrigue, Al Firdaws Jihadist Forums on March 22, 2007 13 Al-Qaeda Messaging Statistics, IntelCenter, September 9, 2007, online at http://www.intelcenter.com/QMS-PUB-v3-3.pdf
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10

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (21),andCasablanca(17).City/townoforiginforSaudiArabia,Libya,Morocco, Algeria,andSyriaarebrokenoutingreaterdetailbelow. SaudiHometowns TwohundredandfiveofSaudiArabianslistedintheSinjarRecordsnotedtheir hometown.Riyadhwasthemostcommoncityoforiginwith25.6%(51).Mecca contributed22.1%(44),Jeddah7.5%(15),AlJawf9.0%(18),Medina6.5%(13), AlTaif5.5%(11),andBuraydah4.5%(9).Theremaining72fightershailedfrom townsscatteredacrossSaudiArabia. Figure5:MostCommonSaudiHometowns

Saudi Arabia Fighters Home Town

Other Riyadh 19.1% Buraydah 4.5% Taif 5.5% 22.1% Mecca 9.0% Al Jawf
Based on 204/242 Saudi records with home town information

25.6%

6.5% Medina 7.5% Jeddah

LibyanHometowns ThevastmajorityofLibyanfightersthatincludedtheirhometownintheSinjar RecordsresidedinthecountrysNortheast,particularlythecoastalcitiesof Darnah60.2%(53)andBenghazi23.9%(21).

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Figure6:MostCommonLibyanHometowns

Libyan Fighters Home Town


Other jdabiyah A Sirt 2.3% 4.5% Misratah 5.7%
3.4%

Benghazi
23.9%

Darnah
60.2%

BothDarnahandBenghazihavelongbeenassociatedwithIslamicmilitancyin Libya,inparticularforanuprisingbyIslamistorganizationsinthemid1990s. TheLibyangovernmentblamedtheuprisingoninfiltratorsfromtheSudanand EgyptandonegrouptheLibyanFightingGroup(jamaahallibiyahal muqatilah)claimedtohaveAfghanveteransinitsranks. 14 TheLibyan uprisingsbecameextraordinarilyviolent.Qadhafiusedhelicoptergunshipsin Benghazi,cuttelephone,electricity,andwatersuppliestoDarnahandfamously claimedthatthemilitantsdeservetodiewithouttrial,likedogs. 15 AbuLaythalLibi,LIFGsEmir,reinforcedBenghaziandDarnahsimportanceto LibyanjihadisinhisannouncementthatLIFGhadjoinedalQaida,saying:
ItiswiththegraceofGodthatwewerehoistingthebannerofjihadagainstthisapostate regimeundertheleadershipoftheLibyanIslamicFightingGroup,whichsacrificedthe eliteofitssonsandcommandersincombatingthisregimewhosebloodwasspilledon themountainsofDarnah,thestreetsofBenghazi,theoutskirtsofTripoli,thedesertof Sabha,andthesandsofthebeach.16

Based on 88/112 Libyan fighters records with hometown information

14 15

Elie Austa, Fundamentalist Unrest, Agence France Presse, March 26, 1996. Libya Said to Seal Off Area Following Unrest, Agence France Presse, March 25, 1996. 16 As-Sahab video released November 3, 2007, on the Al-Boraq Islamic Network; see OSC FEA20071104393586

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Likeothergovernmentsintheregion,Libyaappearsconcernedaboutthe possibilityofjihadiviolencewithinitsborders.InMay2007,theLibyan governmentarrestedseveralLibyansonthegroundsthattheywereplanninga carbombattacksimilartoanAprilattackinAlgeria. 17 AndinJuly2007,agroup callingitselfalQaidainEasternLibyaannouncedasuicideattackinDarnah. 18 LibyasleaderMuammarQadhafihastakenmeasurestomitigatethethreatfrom suchgroups,andhasreportedlyreleasedover80MuslimBrotherhoodactivists inthehopethattheywillmoderatetheviewsofmoreviolentIslamistactivists. 19 IfLIFGisfunnelingLibyansintoIraq,itmayexacerbaterumoredtensions betweenLIFGelementsoverwhetherornottoconcentrateonmilitantactivity withinLibyasborders. 20 Suchdebatesarecommonamongnationaljihadi movementsshiftingfocustoglobalissues.Thissortofdebatedisruptedboth EgyptianIslamicJihadandtheEgyptianIslamicGroupinthe1990s. 21 Reports suggestingthatLIFGsdecisiontojoinalQaidawascontroversialmaybe exaggerated,buttheyprobablyreflectacontentiousdebateoverLIFGsfuture. 22 LIFGssupportforalQaidasIraqiaffiliatehasprobablyincreaseditsstaturein alQaidasleadership,butcomplicateditsinternaldynamics. MoroccanHometowns Twentysixofthe36Moroccanfighters(72.2%)intheSinjarRecordslistedtheir hometown.Ofthose,65.4%(17)hailedfromCasablancawhileanother19.2%(5) werefromTetouan.Thefindingsaresomewhatsurprisingbecauseterrorism researchershavefocusedonTetouanasahotbedofrecruitmentfortraveltoIraq. Anecdotalreportssuggestthisfocusisappropriate,buttheSinjarRecordsarea reminderofthelargerpictureofradicalizationandmobilizationinMorocco.
Kamil al-Tawil, The Americans Launch Rocket Attack Against Abu al-Layth al-Libi in Afghanistan; Libya: Arrest of Jihadists Amid Fears of Al-Qaida Attacks, Al-Hayah, June 22, 2007. 18 Statement on the Free Libya website posted July 11, 2007, online at www.libya-alhora.com 19 Gianandrea Gaiani, The Leader in Tripolis Methods to Isolate the Islamists, Sole-24 Ore, March 4, 2006. 20 Husayn al-Harbi, Bin Laden and Zawahiri Separated, Al Ray al-Amm, September 6, 2007. 21 For more on the debate within LIFG, see Mahan Abedins interview with Noman Benotman, available at: http://www.jamestown.org/news_details.php?news_id=101 22 Ibid.; see also Sami Yousafzi and Ron Moreau, Al-Qaidas Family Feud, Newsweek, July 30, 2007, online at http://www.mywire.com/pubs/Newsweek/2007/07/30/4074018
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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Figure7:MostCommonMoroccanHometowns Morrocan Fighters Home Town Teroudant
3.8%

Tetouan
19.2%

Tangier
11.5%

Casablanca
65.4%

Based on 26 Moroccan records that included hometown information

AlgerianHometowns Twentytwoof43AlgerianslistedintheSinjarRecordsnotedtheirhometown. Ofthose,36.4%(8)werefromalWadand22.7%(5)werefromAlgiers. Figure8:MostCommonAlgerian Algerian Fighters Home Town

Other
22.7%

El Oued
36.4%

9.1%

Constantine
9.1%

Baraki

Algiers
22.7%

Based on 22 Algerian records that included hometown information

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point SyrianHometowns Thirtyfiveofthe49SyriansintheSinjarRecordslistedtheirhometown.Syrian recruitmentwaswidelydispersedexceptforDayralZawr,whichaccountedfor 34.3%(12)oftheSyrianslisted.DayralZawristhecapitalcityofaSyrian regionalstatebythesamename.ThestatebordersIraq. Figure9:MostCommonSyrianHometowns

Syrian Fighters Home Town


Other
8.6%

Idlib
14.3%

Al Dayr Dayr Al-Zawr


34.3% 11.4% 5.7% 8.6% 5.7% 11.4%

Al Hasaka Latakia

Dar'a
Based on 49/595 fighters from Syria in the SInjar sample

Al Tal

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Age ThemeanreportedbirthyearoffighterslistedintheSinjarRecordswas1982;the medianwas1984.ThedatethesefightersarrivedinSyriaontheirwaytoIraq rangedfromAugust18,2006toAugust22,2007whichindicatesthattheaverage agewas2425yearsoldandthemedian2223yearsold. Figure10:BirthYearofForeignFighters

Birth Year of Foreign Fighters


Based on 413 records stating year born
1952 1967 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991

20

40 Number of Records

60

80

TheoldestfighterintheSinjarRecordswas54whenhecrossedintoIraq.Five fighterswerebornin1990atleastoneofwhichwasstill16whenheentered Iraq. 23 Sevenfighterswerebornin1989(1617yearsold)andfifteenin1990 manyofwhomhadnotyetturned18bythetimetheycametoSyria.The youngestfighterinthisgroupwasAbdallahAbidAlSulaymanifromAlTaif, SaudiArabia,whowasbornJune14,1991andarrivedinSyriaonSeptember23, 2006justthreemonthsafterturning15yearsold. 24 Thefightersoverallyouthsuggeststhatmostoftheseindividualsarefirsttime volunteersratherthanveteransofpreviousjihadistruggles.Iftherewasamajor
Many records included birth year but not date of birth. Some records included actual date of birth, others year born, and others no data on age of the fighter. These figures are computed based on the estimated age in 2006. If fighters listed their year of birth in the Gregorian system, we counted it as January 1 of the record year. Similarly, when fighters listed their birth year as a Hijri year, we considered it the first day of the year for conversion purposes.
24 23

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point influxofveteranjihadisintoIraq,itmayhavecomeearlierinthewar.The incitementofanewgenerationofjihadistojointhefightinIraq,orplan operationselsewhere,isoneofthemostworrisomeaspectsoftheongoingfight inIraq.TheUnitedStatesshouldnotconfusegainsagainstalQaidasIraqi franchisesasfundamentalblowsagainsttheorganizationoutsideofIraq.So longasalQaidaisabletoattracthundredsofyoungmentojoinitsranks,itwill remainaseriousthreattoglobalsecurity. Occupation MostfightersintheSinjarRecordsdidnotindicatetheirprofession,but157of the606did.Ofthosethatdid,42.6%(67)werestudents.Theremaindervaried widely.Fiveteacherswererecorded,aswellasthreedoctors,andfour engineers.Theremainingresponsesvariedwidely,fromtheuseful(military:5) tothebizarre(massagetherapist:1). Figure11:OccupationofFighters 25

Foreign Fighters Occupation


Based on 156 records stating occupation
ADMINISTRATIVE BUSINESS LABORER MEDICAL MILITARY OTHER POLICE PROFESSIONAL SELF EMPLOYED SKILLED WORKER STUDENT TEACHER 0 20 40 Number of Records 60 80

Student includes high school and university, secondary school, and includes religious schools. Teacher includes high school, university, and religious schools. Military includes veterans. Professional includes businessman, NGO, lawyers, and engineers. Administrative includes clerks, judges assistants, and doctors assistant. Business includes business merchant and weapons merchant. Other includes free jobs, employee, artist, painter, fitness trainer, massage therapist, bombmaker, and farmer. Skilled worker includes carpenter, electrician, furniture maker, and welder. Unskilled worker includes guard and driver. Laborer includes work, work in a factory.
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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Work MostofthefightersenteringIraqlistedtheirworkuponarrival,acategory thatprimarilydistinguishesbetweenfightersandsuicidebombers. 26 The categoryseemstoreflecttherolefightershopedtohaveupontheirarrivalin Iraq,butitmightindicateanassignmentdeterminedbylocaladministrators. ThetranslatedversionsoftheSinjarrecordsconverttheArabicwordistishhadiin avarietyofways:asmartyr,martyrdom,andsuicidebomber.Theword itselfmeansmartyrdomseeker.Wehavecodedallsuchindividualssuicide bombersinanefforttoavoidconfusion.AlthoughalQaidasideology embracestheconceptofbecomingamartyrduringthecourseoftraditional militaryoperations,thepurposeofthesepersonnelrecordswastoenable commanderstoefficientlyallocateindividualsforspecifictasks.Insuch circumstances,istishhadilikelyreferstoindividualsintendedforsuicideattacks. Ofthe389fightersthatdesignatedtheirworkinIraq,56.3%(217)weretobe suicidebombers.Another41.9%(166)weredesignatedmoretraditionalfighters. Severalrespondentslistedmorespecializedtasks,includingmediaoperations (2),doctor(3),andlegalskills(1).Wehavechosentocombinethesuicide bomberandmartyrdatacategories. Figure12:WorkofAllFighters

Foreign Fighter Recruited Roles


Other 1.8% Fighter 41.9% Suicide Bomber 56.3%

Based on 389 fighters' records including information on intended work

26

Types of work are listed in various ways in the original Arabic and in translation. Listings such as combatant, and fighters, were counted as fighter. Listings such as martyr, martyrdom, suicide, and suicide mission are counted as suicide bomber.

18

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point NumerousobservershaveconcludedthatSaudiArabiansareoverrepresented intheranksofIraqisuicidebombers.Onerecentstudyanalyzed94suicide bombersinIraqanddeterminedthat44wereSaudi,7Kuwaiti,7European,six SyrianandtheremainderscatteredacrosstheMideastandNorthAfrica. 27 TheSinjarRecordssupporttheconclusionthatthepluralityofsuicidebombers enteringIraqbetweenAugust2006andAugust2007wereSaudi.However,they challengethenotionthat,onceinIraq,Saudiforeignfightersaremorelikelythan theircomradesfromotherlocationstobecomesuicidebombers.Libyanand MoroccanfightersthatlistedtheirworkintheSinjarRecordsweremuchmore likelytoregistersuicidebomberthanfightersfromothernations. Figure13:IntendedWorkofFightersbyNationality Country Suicide Fighters Other Total Bombers SaudiArabia 50.3%(76) 48.3%(73) 1.3%(2) 151 Libya 85.2%(52) 13.1%(8) 1.6%(1) 61 Morocco 91.7%(22) 8.3%(2) 0 24 Syria 65.6%(21) 31.2%(10) 3.1%(1) 32 Algeria 13.9%(5) 83.3%(30) 2.8%(1) 36 Yemen 46.1%(18) 53.9%(21) 0 39 Tunisia 41.7%(10) 58.3%(14) 0 24 Ofthe244SaudifightersintheSinjarRecords,61.8%(151)listedtheirwork. Ofthat151,50.3%(76)plannedtobecomesuicidebombers.Amongthe238non SaudiswholistedtheirworkintheSinjarRecords,59.2%(141)weredenoted asfuturesuicidebombers.LibyanandMoroccanjihadistswerefarmorelikely, asapercentageoffighterswhoarrivedinIraq,tobelistedassuicidebombers. Ofthe112LibyansintheRecords,54.4%(61)listedtheirwork.Fully85.2% (51)oftheseLibyanfighterslistedsuicidebomberastheirworkinIraq. RoutetoIraq MostofthefightersintheSinjarRecordsdonotexplaintheroutetheytookto Iraq.Furthermore,thefightersthatdidenterinformationabouttheirroutewere veryinconsistentintheirmethodology.Somefightersincludedtheirhome countryasastop,othersdidnot.SomeincludedIraqasastopontheirwayto
27

Mohammed M. Hafez, Suicide Terrorism in Iraq: A Preliminary Assessment of the Quantitative Data and Documentary Evidence, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 29:6 (2006) 616-19

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Iraq.SomefighterslistedSyriaasastopontheirroutetoIraq,whileothers seemedtothinkitwasassumedanddidnotmentionSyriadespiteprovidingthe nameoftheircoordinatorinSyria. 28 Meanwhile,itisnotclearwhatfighters consideredastop.Forsome,thatmayhavesimplybeenacountrytransited onthewaytoIraq;forothers,itmayhaverequiredamoreextensivelayover. DespitethedataprobleminassessingtheroutefighterstooktoIraq,itisclear thatroutesdiffereddramaticallyfromcountrytocountry.Ofthe63recordsof SaudisthatdescribedtheirroutetoIraq,47.6%listedadirectroutefromSaudi intoSyria,whileanother36.5%(23)notedthattheytraveledfirsttoJordan,then toSyria.LibyanfightersseemedtofollowanestablishedpathtoSyria.Ofthe52 LibyanfightersthatlistedtheirroutetoIraq,50traveledfirsttoEgypt,while2 flewdirectlytoSyria.FromEgypt,84.2%(43)flewdirectlytoSyriawhile13.4% (7)wenttoJordanandthenenteredSyria.TheSinjarRecordsalsohintatan establishedpathwayfromMoroccothroughTurkeyintoSyria.Ofthe12 MoroccanfightersthatdescribedtheirroutetoSyria,tenflewdirectlytoTurkey whiletheothertwocrossedfirstintoSpainbeforetravelingtoTurkey. Figure14:RoutetoIraq 29
Route Taken by Fighters from Country of Origin to Iraq via Syria
ALGERIA-SAUDI ARABIA-SYRIA ALGERIA-SYRIA ALGERIA-TUNISIA-LIBYA-SYRIA EGYPT-IRELAND-FRANCE-SYRIA EGYPT-SAUDI ARABIA-SYRIA JORDAN-SYRIA KUWAIT-SAUDI ARABIA-JORDAN-SYRIA LIBYA-EGYPT-JORDAN-SYRIA LIBYA-EGYPT-SYRIA LIBYA-SYRIA MOROCCO-SPAIN-TURKEY-SYRIA MOROCCO-SYRIA MOROCCO-TURKEY-SYRIA SAUDI ARABIA-ALGERIA-JORDAN-SYRIA SAUDI ARABIA-BAHRAIN-EGYPT-SYRIA SAUDI ARABIA-BAHRAIN-SYRIA SAUDI ARABIA-DUBAI-SYRIA SAUDI ARABIA-JORDAN-SYRIA SAUDI ARABIA-SYRIA SWEDEN-EGYPT-SYRIA SYRIA SYRIA-LEBANON-SYRIA TUNISIA-GERMANY-TURKEY-SYRIA TUNISIA-SAUDI ARABIA-SYRIA TUNISIA-TURKEY-SYRIA YEMEN-EGYPT-JORDAN-SYRIA YEMEN-EGYPT-SYRIA YEMEN-MALAYSIA-SYRIA YEMEN-SAUDI ARABIA-SYRIA YEMEN-SYRIA

10

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30

40

50

AnexampleofthisisBaderShourie,recordnumber90.NMEC2007657770. Figure 14, noting the routes fighters took to Iraq lists the country of origin, stopover nations, and Syria. The Syria category includes mostly Syrian fighters, but includes several others that only listed Syria
29

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point TheSinjarRecordsdonotoffermuchinformationaboutthefighterstravelonce inSyria.OnecluemaybethedisproportionatenumberofSyrianfightersthat listedDayralZawr(34.3%)astheirhometown.Thereisanecdotalevidencethat DayralZawrwasanimportanttransitpointforjihadishopingtoinfiltrateIraq, atleastuntil2006.ADecember2005reportinAlHayahtrackedagroupof AlgerianandSaudifighterstryingtocrossfromDayralZawr,throughthe bordertownofAlbuKamal,andthenintoIraq. 30 Likewise,ayoungSaudithat wascapturedinIraqrecountedhowhearrivedthereafterusingthesame pathwayfromDayralZawr,viaminibustoAlbuKamalandbyfootacrossthe bordertoalQaim. 31 AbuUmar,aPalestinianfighterwhocrossedintoIraqto trainalQaidatroopsalsohasdescribedtransitingDayralZawronhiswayto alQaiminIraq. 32 AlMuhajiralIslami,afrequentposteronSyriandissident webforumsexplainedthattheDayralZawrsectionoftheborderwas particularlyeasytocrossbecauseofthelinksbetweentribesoneithersideofthe border. 33 TheSinjarRecordswerecapturedfarnorthofAlbuKamalinSyriaandalQaim inIraq,whichsuggeststhatthesmugglingrouteforfightersintoIraqhasshifted north.Nonetheless,thecityofDayralZawrmaystillbeanimportantlogistics hubforfightershopingtoenterIraq.DayralZawrsitsontheroadnorthfrom DamascusandEastfromAleppo,whichmakesitalogicallocationforalogistics base,whetherheadingfurthereasttotheIraqicityofalQaimornorthtoSinjar.
30 31

Muhammad Muqaddam, Facts Disclosed by Fundamentalists, Al-Hayah, December 8, 2005. Malfi al-Harbi, Al-Shayi, a Victim that was Lured to Iraq, Al-Riyad, November 21, 2007. 32 Interview with Abu Umar, Al Arabiyah 1905, December 7, 2007 33 http://www.globalterroralert.com/pdf/0805/roadtoiraq0805.pdf Global Terror Alert does not list the original website, but it was likely the Syrian Islamic Forum that was hosted at www.nnuu.org during 2005.

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point EntryDate Twohundredandthreeofthe606SinjarRecordsprovidethedatethefighter enteredIraq.ThemostcommonmonthtoarrivewasNovember2006,when38 fighterswererecorded.ThesecondbusiestmonthwasJuly2007,with32 recordedarrivals.Interestingly,inDecember2006onlyonefighterwasrecorded anditwassomeonenamedHafid,whostartedhisjourneyinBelgium. Figure15:DateEnteredIraqbyMonth

Number of Foreign Fighters Arriving by Month


Number of Records of 202 Containing Arrival Date 10 20 30 40 0
Aug-06Sep-06 Oct-06 Nov-06Dec-06Jan-07Feb-07Mar-07 Apr-07May-07Jun-07 Jul-07 Aug-07

TheSinjarRecordsdonotlistanyfightersenteringIraqinMarchorApril2007. Thisisafascinating,butsuspicious,statistic.Only3fightersarerecorded enteringinFebruary2007,whichbolstersthenotionthattheISIslogistic networkwasdisruptedforsomereasoninearly2007,butitisalsopossiblethat therecordsforthattimeperiodwerelost. ItispossibletoestimatetheentrydateforfightersintheSinjarRecordsby trackingthewatermarksandletterheadonthedocumentsthemselves.The IslamicStateofIraq(ISI)wasestablishedinOctober2006,whichindicatesthat fightersrecordedonISIstationaryenteredIraqafterthatdate.Apparently,the alQaidasaffiliatesdidnotexchangetheirstationaryimmediatelyaftertheISI wasestablished.SomeofthefightersrecordedonMujahidinShuraCouncil

22

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (MSC)stationarylistfightersthatarrivedinNovember2006aftertheISIhad replacedtheMSC.ThefirstfighterlistedonISIstationaryisHafid,theBelgian whoarrivedinDecember2006.Ofthe606totalrecords,56.1%(340)areclearly listedasISIrecruits,while16.8%(102)arelistedonMSCstationary. TravelingPartners TheSinjarRecordsdonotprovidemuchinformationabouthowindividual fighterswererecruited(orselfselected)forthefightinIraq.Thereisinteresting evidence,however,thatmanyofthefighterssignedupingroupstotravelto Iraq,ratherthanontheirown.Ofthe202fightersthatrecordedtheirdateof arrivalinIraq,46.5%(94)ofthemarrivedonthesamedayasanotherindividual fromtheirhometown.Suchevidencestronglysuggeststhattheindividuals traveledtogetherasagroupand,insomecases,mayhavebeenrecruited simultaneously. OneofthelargergroupsbegantheirjourneyinDarnah,Libyaandarrivedin IraqonMay9,2007.AbuAbbas,AbualWalid,AbuBakar,AsadAllah,and AbuAbdalKabirallwereistishhadimartyrdomseekers.Thefivemendidnot signupthroughthesamelocalcoordinatorinDarnah.AbuAbbas,wholisted hisoccupationasEmployeesignedupthroughacoordinatornamedQamar, AbualWalidandAbuBakarastudentandatrafficcopreceivedsupport fromsomeonenamedSaraj.AsadAllahandAbuAbdalKabirreceivedhelp fromacoordinatornamedBashar.AsadAllahwasateacher.Noneofthemen knewtheircoordinatorbeforetheydecidedtogotoIraq. ItisnotclearifthefivementraveledtogetherfromDarnahorinseparate groups,butallfivewenttoEgyptandthentoSyria.OnceinSyria,thefive probablyweretogetherasagroup.AllfivelistedamannamedAbuAbbas (whotheyunanimouslyliked)astheirSyriancoordinator.Whenthefivemen crossedintoIraqtheyeachcontributedseveralthousandSyrianLiratotheISI, butdidnotreportanyformofID. AlQaidasSyriaProblem TheauthorsofthisreportbelievethatallofthefightersintheSinjarRecords enteredIraqfromSyria.MostoftheSinjarRecordsofferevidenceoftransit throughSyria,eitherbecausethecountryislistedasthefinalstoponthewayto IraqorbecausethefighternamedtheirSyrianCoordinator.Furthermore, SinjarsitsinNorthwestIraqapproximately10milesfromtheSyrianborder.Ina locationsoclosetoSyriaandsofarfromotherborders,itwouldbesurprisingto findrecordsofindividualsthatdidnotcrossintoIraqfromSyria. 23

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Itisnotclear,however,howcomplicitSyriasgovernmentisinthemovementof personnelthroughitsterritory.TheSyriangovernmentisledbyaBaathist regimedominatedbymembersoftheAlawitesect,whichisaformofShiaIslam thatembraceselementssimilartoChristiantheology. ThehistoryoftheSyriangovernmentsrelationshipwithalienIslamistmilitants islongandcomplicated,rangingfromopensupporttobrutalsuppressionof jihadiactivistsoperatingwithinitsborders.Syrianpolicytowardsuchfightersis likelydrivenbyitsperceptionofnationalinterest,ratherthanideological kinship.Inthelate1970s,forinstance,Syriasentthousandsoftroopsintosouth LebanoninsupportofthePLOsguerrillaeffortsthereandprovidedlogistical supporttoforeignvolunteerswhowantedtojointhejihadonthatfront,yetat thesametimeitcarriedoutanextremelyviolentcampaignagainsttheSyrian MuslimBrotherhoodsuprisinginsideSyria,aninsurgencythatalsoincluded significantnumbersofforeignfighters. 34 SyriahasaninterestinkeepingtheU.S.backedregimeinIraqoffbalance,butit mustalsofearabacklashfromjihadigroups,manyofwhichdespiseAlawite apostasyasmuchormorethantheUnitedStates.Indeed,someofAbu MusabalZarqawismostimportantearlyrecruitswereveteransoftheMuslim BrotherhoodsuprisingagainsttheSyriangovernmentinthe1980s. 35 ForSyria, supportingjihadigroupsisatbestadoubleedgedsword. AnecdotaldatafromSyrianhistoryhintsatSyriasstrategytoday.Formerjihadi militantAbulWalidMustafaHamidhasdescribedhowheandagroupofjihadi volunteerstraveledfromAbuDhabitosouthLebanonviaSyriaintheearly 1980s;attheLebaneseSyrianborderheandhisentiregroupwerephotographed andhadtheirpassportstakentobecopiedbytheSyrianintelligenceservice. 36 ThoughthisactionwasostensiblypartofthesupportthattheSyrianswere providingtothesevolunteersastheymadetheirwaytoLebanon,AbulWalid learnedanumberofyearslaterthatheandseveralotherofthemenprocessedby

For an insider's account of the Muslim Brotherhood insurgency against the Syrian government from the Harmony Database, see Abu Mus'ab al-Suri, AFGP-2002-600080 and a case study developed using this and other Harmony documents at Chapter 3 of Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting Al-Qaidas Organizational Vulnerabilities available at http://ctc.usma.edu/aq/aq_syria.asp 35 Fuad Husayn, Al-Zarqawi: The Second Generation of Al-Qaida, serialized in Al Quds al-Arabi, May 14, 2005, p. 17. 36 AFGP-2002-600087, p. 17; excerpts of this source were also published by Muhammad al-Shafi'i in alSharq al-Awsat on October 26, 2006, and subsequently translated by FBIS, GMP20061026866001.

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point SyrianintelligenceatthattimeweresubsequentlyplacedonSyriasterrorist watchlist. 37 Syriawouldmuchratherbeatransitpointforjihadisthantheirfinaldestination. SyriasleadersmaydeterminethataninfluxoffightersintoIraqsupportsits nationalinterests,butSyriaiscertainlytrackingsuchfightersandlikelyhopes thattheydonotsurvivetoleaveIraq. TheSinjarRecordsdooffercluesabouthowalQaidasmugglesitsvolunteers throughSyria.ManyofthefightersintheSinjarRecordslistedaSyrian coordinatororcoordinatorsthatpresumablydirectedtheirtraveluponarrivalin Syria.Ofthe606totalrecords,41.9%(254)listedatleastonecontactinSyria. Manylistedmultiplecontacts.Giventhemultipledifferenttranslationsand transliterationsoftheSyriancoordinatorsaswellascommonnameslikelyheld bymorethanonecoordinator,itisdifficulttoaccuratelymapthenetworkof SyriancoordinatorsandwhotheyhelpedtransitintoIraqafterarrivalinSyria. Basedonthisinitialassessmentofthedata,severalnamedindividualsarelisted morefrequentlyasthefighterscoordinatorinSyria. ThefighterslistedintheSinjarRecordswereaskedtophysicallydescribetheir Syriancoordinator,divulgehowmuchmoneytheSyriancoordinatordemanded, andratethefightersoverallexperiencewiththecoordinator.Thesequestions mayindicatethatalQaidasadministratorsinIraqmistrusttheirSyrian coordinators.SuchsuspicioniscommoninalQaida.NumerousHarmony documentsrevealalQaidasrigorouseffortstoensureitsagentsareusingfunds efficiently 38 . AlQaidaschallengeincoordinatingtransportationinSyrialikelyrunsmuch deeperthanminorgraft.Mediareportssuggeststhatmanyofthehuman smugglersalQaidausesinSyriaarefreelancersworkingformoneyratherthan alQaidasideologicalallies,whichwouldexplainwhythetravelingfighters handlersinIraqaresoconcernedabouttheirfees. 39 Someofthesenetworksare

AFGP-2002-600087, p. 17. The tradeoffs Al-Qaida must make when balancing security and financial efficiency are described by CTC Research Fellow Jacob Shapiro in Section I of Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting Al-Qaidas Organizational Vulnerabilities. See http://ctc.usma.edu/harmony/harmony_menu.asp for the CTCs previous analyses of Harmony documents and a compilation of all documents released to the CTC by USSOCOM thus far. 39 Hala Jaber and Ali Rafat Suicide Bombers Head to Iraq from Damascus The Sunday Times October 7, 2007
38

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point likelycriminal,butothersmaybelinkedtoIraqiinsurgentfactionsthatwere operatedfromSyriaaftertheU.S.invasion. 40 AsketchofSyrianCoordinatornetworksbasedonthelimiteddatainthisone yearsampleisprovidedatFigure16.ThecorenetworkofSyrianhandlers appearstostillbeactivewithacertainAbuUmarandAbuAbbasplayingkey rolesincoordinatingforeignfightertransitthroughSyria.Theactivitiesofthe auxiliaryhandlersthatcanbemeasuredusingthisdata,however,appeartobe largelyinactivenow. Figure16:ActiveSyrianCoordinatorNetworksOverTime 41

IfalQaidasSyrianlogisticsnetworksaretrulyrunbymercenaries,thereare manypolicyoptionsavailabletocooptormanipulatethem.Itisalmost inconceivablethatSyrianintelligencehasnotalreadytriedtopenetratethese networks,butthatdoesnotprecludeAmericanagenciesfromattemptingthe same.TheUnitedStatesabilitytodestroynetworksinsideofSyriaislimited,

Muidd Fayyad, Interview With Major General Muhammad Abdallah al-Shahwani, director of Iraq's National Intelligence Service, al-Sharq al-Awsat, January 5, 2005. 41 Network analysis software was used to generate this initial sketch of the Syrian coordinator networks. The CTCs follow on report due out early next year will incorporate greater amounts of data and more sophisticated use of this powerful analytical tool.

40

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point butitmaybepossibletobribeorotherwisecoercesuchcoordinatorstodisrupt theiroperationsorrevealinformationaboutalQaidasorganizationinIraq. OneofthepersistentmysteriesoftheIraqwarisexactlyhowIslamistgroupslike alQaidawereabletocooperatewithIraqssecularSunniinsurgentsearlyinthe insurgencyperiod.Sinceearly2007,relationsbetweenalQaidasISIandits secularcounterpartshavedeteriorateddramatically,tothepointwhere shootoutsandassassinationsbetweengroupsarenowcommonplace.Itis conceivablethatdeterioratingrelationsbetweentheISIandsecularinsurgents haveweakenedtheISIslogisticalchain,particularlyinSyria,whereIraqi Baathistshavestrongties.

Conclusions
TheSinjarRecordsofferunrivaledinsightintoforeignfightersenteringIraq betweenAugust2006andAugust2007.Thedatarevealsseveralcritical findings: SaudismadeupthelargestcontingentofforeignfightersenteringIraq. Libyansweresecond(firstifmeasuredinpercapitaterms)andSyriansa distantthird.Intermsofsheernumbers,Saudisconstitutedthelargest groupofforeignfightersandcontributedthemostoverallsuicide bombers,butthepercentageofSaudifighterslistedassuicidebombers wasactuallylowerthannonSaudis. RecentpoliticaldevelopmentsinAfghanistanandPakistan,the prevalenceofLibyanfightersinIraq,andevidenceofawellestablished smugglingrouteforLibyansthroughEgypt,suggeststhatLibyanfactions (primarilytheLibyanIslamicFightingGroup)areincreasinglyimportant inalQaida.TheSinjarRecordsoffersomeevidencethatLibyansbegan surgingintoIraqinlargernumbersbeginninginMay2007.Mostofthe LibyanrecruitscamefromcitiesinNorthEastLibya,anarealongknown forjihadilinkedmilitancy.Libyanfightersweremuchmorelikelythan othernationalitiestobelistedassuicidebombers(85%forLibyans,56% forallothers). TheSinjarRecordsreinforceanecdotalaccountssuggestingthatal QaidasIraqiaffiliatesrelyonsmugglersandcriminalsratherthantheir ownpersonneltofunnelrecruitsintoIraq.

27

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point ManyoftheforeignfightersenteringIraqarrivedwithagroupfromtheir hometown,suggestingthatalQaidasrecruiterstrytoattractgroupsof friendssimultaneously. ThemajorityoffightersthatlistedtheiroccupationbeforetravelingtoIraq werestudents.Universitieshavebecomeacriticalrecruitingfieldforal Qaida.

TheSinjarRecordsrevealseveralweaknessesthattheUnitedStatesandother governmentscanexploit: AlQaidasrelianceoncriminalandsmugglingnetworksexposesittothe greedofmercenaries.Inmanycases,theUnitedStatesshouldtargetwork todestroythesenetworks,buttheU.S.mustremainflexibleenoughto recognizeopportunitiestocoopt,ratherthansimplyannihilate,such systems.TheU.S.maybeabletousefinancialincentivesandcreative securityguaranteestosecurecooperationfromsomesmugglers. 42 TheLibyanIslamicFightingGroupsunificationwithalQaidaandits apparentdecisiontoprioritizeprovidinglogisticalsupporttotheIslamic StateofIraqislikelycontroversialwithintheorganization.Itislikelythat someLIFGfactionsstillwanttoprioritizethefightagainsttheLibyan regime,ratherthanthefightinIraq.Itmaybepossibletoexacerbate schismswithinLIFG,andbetweenLIFGsleadersandalQaidas traditionalEgyptianandSaudipowerbase. TheIslamicStateofIraqhasfailedpoliticallybecauseithasbeenunableto balancethepracticaldemandsofitslocalIraqiconstituencyandthe religiousdemandsofitsforeignsupporters.TheISIsclumsyeffortto balancethesedemandshasalienateditfromotherSunniinsurgents.The U.S.shouldnotbecontenttoexploitthisfailureonlyinIraq.TheISIs politicalfailureexemplifiesthefundamentalbankruptcyofalQaidas ideology.TheU.S.,itsallies,andmoderatesofallkinds,candiscretely usetheISIspoliticalfailuretoillustratethatlargerideologicalpoint.

42

See Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting Al-Qaidas Organizational Vulnerabilities available at http://ctc.usma.edu/harmony/harmony_menu.asp

28

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point TheSyrianandLibyangovernmentssharetheUnitedStatesconcerns aboutviolentsalafijihadiideologyandtheviolenceperpetratedbyits adherents.Thesegovernments,likeothersintheMiddleEast,fear violenceinsidetheirbordersandwouldmuchratherradicalelementsgo toIraqratherthancauseunrestathome.U.S.andCoalitioneffortsto stemtheflowoffightersintoIraqwillbeenhancediftheyaddressthe entirelogisticalchainthatsupportsthemovementoftheseindividuals beginningintheirhomecountriesratherthanjusttheirSyrianentry points. TheU.S.maybeabletoincreasecooperationfromgovernmentstostem theflowoffightersintoIraqbyaddressingtheirconcernsaboutdomestic jihadiviolence.


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Appendix1
ThefirststudyofforeignfightersinIraqwasauthoredinMarch2005byIsraeli researcherReuvenPaz.Pazstudied154fightersidentifiedonjihadiwebforums ashavingbeenmartyredinIraqandusedtheirmemorialbiographiesto identifytheirnationality. 43 Pazsdatabreakdownlikethis:
SaudiArabia:94(61%) Syria:16(10.4%) Iraq:13(8.4%) Kuwait:11(7.1%) Jordan:4 Lebanon:3(onewaslivinginDenmark) Libya:2 Algeria:2 Morocco:2(onewaslivinginSpain) Yemen:2 Tunisia:2 Palestine:1 Dubai:1 Sudan:1(livinginSaudiArabia)

InJune2005,anNBCNewsreportcitedaU.S.Armyofficialwholistedthetop tencountriesoforiginforforeignfightersinIraq:Egypt,Iran,Jordan,Lebanon, thePalestinianterritories,SaudiArabia,Sudan,Syria,Tunisia,andYemen. 44 The officialwouldnotprovidethenumberoffightersfromeachcountry. SeveralmonthsafterthePazreportwasreleased,itwascriticizedbyAnthony CordesmanandNawafObaidoftheCenterforStrategicandInternational Studies(CSIS)whoarguedthatPazoverstatedtheSaudipresenceinIraq. 45 CordesmanandObaid,whosedatawereprovidedbySaudiintelligence,claimed thatthereweresome3000foreignfightersoperatinginIraq,butthatonly12 percentwereSaudi.TheCordesman/Obaidestimateslooklikethis: Algeria:600(20%) Syria:550(18%) Yemen:500(17%) Sudan:450(15%) Egypt:400(13%) SaudiArabia:350(12%) OtherCountries:150(5%)
Reuven Paz, Arab Volunteers Killed in Iraq: an Analysis, PRISM Series on Global Jihad, No. 1/3, March 2005, online at http://www.e-prism.org/images/PRISM_no_1_vol_3_-_Arabs_killed_in_Iraq.pdf 44 Lisa Meyers, Who are the Foreign Fighters? MSNBC June 20, 2005, online at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8293410/ 45 Anthony Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid, Saudi Militants in Iraq: Assessment and Kingdoms Response, Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 19, 2005. http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/050919_saudimiltantsiraq.pdf
43

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Combating Terrorism Center at West Point InDecember2005,anotherresearcherusedinformationgleanedfromonline sourcestoassessthenationalityofalQaidalinkedfightersinIraq.Citingalist of429slainSalafijihadispostedonajihadilinkedwebforum,Muradal Shishaniconcludedthat53percentwereSaudi,13percentSyrian,8percentIraqi, 5.8percentJordanian,4percentKuwaitiand3.8percentLibyan. 46 CitingstatisticsreleasedbyMultiNationalForcesIraqinlate2005,Alan KruegerconcludedthatmostfighterswereSyrian,withSudanese,Saudis,and Egyptiansalsocontributingalargenumberoffighters.Ofthe311fighterswhose nationalitieswerereleased,onlysevenwereLibyan. 47 Twoyearslater,theLosAngelesTimescitedofficialU.S.militaryfigures statingthat45percentofallforeignfightersinIraqcomefromSaudiArabia. 48 Accordingtothearticle,15percentarrivedfromLebanonandSyriaandanother 10percentwerefromNorthAfrica.TheLosAngelesTimesarticlealsocited statisticsindicatingthat50percentofallSaudisarrivedinIraqtobecomesuicide bombers.

Murad al-Shishani, The Salafi-Jihadist Movement in Iraq: Recruitment Methods and Arab Volunteers, Jamestown Terrorism Monitor, 3:23, December 2, 2005. http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2369842 47 Krueger, Alan What Makes a Terrorist (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006) pp. 83 48 Ned Parker, Saudis Role in Iraq Insurgency Outlined, The Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2007, online at http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/fairenough/latimesA98.html

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