Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Four Years After Iraq Invasion: More Terror, More Muslim Hatred for Americans

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CNN, on a new study showing that global terrorist incidents have increased sharply since the U.S. invaded Iraq:

Tonight, there is some sobering new evidence that the war in Iraq is fueling terrorism, rather than stemming it. The White House has said repeatedly that the Iraq mission is making the world safer. There is a new study, though, which appears to be the first of its kind that found just the opposite.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One argument for the war in Iraq has long been that it will make the world safer by denying terrorists a place in which to train and plan.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we're not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders.

FOREMAN (on camera): You could call it the flypaper theory. And, in theory, it works like this. Jihadist terrorists are drawn to Iraq by the hopes of striking at the American military and to stop the development of a democratic government there.

Once there, coalition forces engage these terrorists, killing and capturing many, and forcing others into hiding. All of this activity keeps terrorist groups from effectively focusing their efforts elsewhere. (voice-over): Anywhere, that's the theory. And that's certainly what the administration would have us believe. But what if the war in Iraq were actually creating new terrorists and putting the world at greater risk?

A new study from New York University's Center on Law and Security suggests, that's exactly what is happening. Look what they found. From the day after 9/11 to the day before the invasion of Iraq, there were fewer than 30 terror attacks a year worldwide. After the invasion, that jumped to 200, a sevenfold increase. Before the invasion, there were 501 terror-related deaths a year. Now there are nearly 1,700 annually.

The administration has argued previously that such numbers are climbing because coalition troops are engaging the enemy. But, even if you don't count the terror attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, worldwide terrorism blamed on jihadists is still rising dramatically.

The study meshes with the government's own assessments. A national intelligence report last October found that Iraq is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives, jihadists who are honing their skills by fighting in Iraq, but who will eventually go home to their own countries, yet more evidence that the flypaper may not be sticking.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


CHETRY: So, let's talk more about that.

CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen co-authored this study with Paul Cruickshank, his colleague at the Center on Law and Security at New York University's School of Law. And they both join me now.

And we will start with you, Peter.

Your report does deal with the sevenfold increase in deadly attacks that you call jihadist terrorism. Explain for us who falls under that definition, and -- and who does not.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, we took a very conservative approach to the way we counted the numbers.

We -- we used the RAND database, which is the -- widely regarded to be the best database on the subject. We only included known jihadist groups, meaning that when there's an attack, there was a real claim of responsibility, or a preponderance of media reporting, indicating a particular group was behind an attack. And we counted only attacks where there was one fatality or more.

So, in fact, our -- our report probably understates the problem. In Iraq, there are a lot of attacks that can't be assigned to a particular group. So, we didn't include those. We just looked at groups that are motivated by al Qaeda's ideology around the world. We also excluded the whole Palestinian-Israeli question, because that's sort of a separate issue.

And we found a sevenfold increase in -- in -- in attacks since the beginning of the war, compared to the period after 9/11, up to the invasion of Iraq, quite a sobering finding. There was very little good news. There has been some decline in terrorism in Southeast Asia, 60 percent, but that's really got nothing to do with the Iraq war. That's particular to Southeast Asia.

We found relatively few Americans have been killed. That's part of the good news, only 18 Americans. But, if you look at the period between 9/11 and up to the Iraq war, only four Americans had been killed in terrorist attacks. So, the Iraq war hasn't really made Americans safer. That rate has gone up slightly as well.

CHETRY: All right.

Well, and, Paul, the administration is saying, though, that there's some of the success in the war that really can't be measured by that. It's intelligence gathered. It's the attacks that were prevented, things that can't be quantified.

So, how much of that was taken into account?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, all we looked at is -- is attacks. You know, that -- that was sort of the metric we measured. And we looked at attacks, and we looked at attacks around the world. And we saw these large increases.

Even when you took away Iraq and Afghanistan out of the picture, there was a 35 percent increase in fatal jihadist terrorist -- terrorist attacks around the world. So, as Peter was saying, we took a very cautious approach.

And we found, for example, that, in the -- in the Arab world, not including Iraq, there was a 455 percent increase in jihadist attacks after the Iraq war, and a 783 percent increase in fatalities. So, we -- we saw large -- rather large increases in jihadist terrorism after the Iraq war.

CHETRY: Yet, the scary thing is, I mean, in most of these cases, I mean, it's Muslims killing Muslims. I mean, most of the civilian casualties are fellow Muslims, right, Paul?

CRUICKSHANK: That's absolutely the case. A lot of, you know, these attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the Arab world, clearly, Muslims are getting caught up in these attacks.

But there have also been, as I was saying, a large increase in attacks against Western targets. That's against the United States and its NATO allies, particularly against its coalition partners in Iraq. United Kingdom has been attacked. Spain has been attacked. A lot of people have died there.

And, increasingly, these -- these groups are -- are starting to come out with a more globalized vision of jihads, going away from their local struggles. The GSPC in Algeria has now fused with al Qaeda and calls itself al Qaeda in the Maghreb. And they have announced that they are going to increasingly target the United States and her allies.

Kiran Chetry, the CNN anchor, tells Bergen that this report is going to be seen as "America-bashing" [my emphasis]:

CHETRY: And -- and, Peter, let me ask you that -- about that, because critics will say that the report blasts America, in a way, for the terrorists' actions. You did talk about this, though, Peter, the -- the -- the growing use of the Internet, almost, to recruit these young jihadists, glorifying suicide bombings and the such.

Isn't there a responsibility within the Muslim nations, as well, to try to work against this recruitment of young minds?

BERGEN: Of course there is.

And, in fact, one of the reasons there's been a decline in Southeast Asia of 67 percent, according to our report, is precisely because so many Indonesian civilians have been killed by the al Qaeda affiliate in -- in Indonesia, that Indonesians have really turned against this al Qaeda affiliate, which is known as Jemaah Islamiyah.

So, yes, of course Muslims have to take responsibility for Muslim-on-Muslim violence, if they were in any way involved in it. But the fact is, we're -- we're not trying to bash the United States. We're simply asking the question, did the Iraq war help or hinder jihadist terrorists?

And it's quite clear that, with a sevenfold increase, it has -- it has helped the jihadist terrorists in their cause. Now, much of that increase, of course, is in Iraq and in Afghanistan. But Afghanistan is a particularly interesting case, because there was no jihadist terrorism, no suicide attacks in -- in Afghanistan to speak of -- in 2003-2004, a handful of suicide attacks.

Suddenly, according to the Pentagon's own figures, there were 27 suicide attacks in Afghanistan in 2005, and 139 this past year. And, of course, these people in Afghanistan are learning from Iraq.

Another just-published study shows that anti-American feeling among Muslims worldwide has skyrocketed:

The War on Terror has radicalised Muslims around the world to unprecedented levels of anti-American feeling, according to the largest survey of Muslims ever to be conducted.

Seven per cent believe that the events of 9/11 were “completely justified”. In Saudi Arabia, 79 per cent had an “unfavourable view” of the US.

Gallup’s Centre for Muslim Studies in New York carried out surveys of 10,000 Muslims in ten predominantly Muslim countries. One finding was that the wealthier and better-educated the Muslim was, the more likely he was to be radicalised.

The surveys were carried out in 2005 and 2006. Along with an earlier Gallup survey in nine other countries in 2001, they represent the views of more than 90 per cent of the world’s Muslims. A further 1,500 Muslims in London, Paris and Berlin are involved in a separate poll to be published in April.


Jeffrey Levine said...

Don't fight crime, that will only increase the amount of violent gangs.

I have never read anything so stupid.

Kathy said...


If a large American city -- Los Angeles or New York, say -- has a particular plan for reducing gang violence;

and after four years of following the plan, there is actually more gang violence than there was before the plan was put into practice;

you would say the plan was a success, and should be continued.

And you would consider that intelligent on your part?