Surge in Foreign Fighters, Terror Funding Seen in Iraq

Official Says Large Number of Foreign Fighters Proves AQI's Inability to Recruit Iraqis

Iraqi officials may have completed a major arrest campagn against a large number of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) members recently, but the problem of the group and other foreign fights is believed to be growing precipitously.

Officals say large numbers of foreign fighters are sneaking back into Iraq in recent weeks, and that there has been a surge in foreign funding to the AQI, which some attributed to the Obama Administration’s claims to be planning to leave the nation at the end of 2011.

But the more likely explanation perhaps is the March election, which saw a Sunni bloc win the largest plurality only to take a back seat to the second and third place (and in some cases the fourth place) finishers in the coalition government.

There seems to be considerable concern across the Sunni Arab world, and particularly in Saudi Arabia, that the elections seem to have solidified the control of the pro-Iranian Shi’ite blocs in the Iraqi government. This could be prompting a flurry of new aid to the AQI and other Sunni militant factions to check the Shi’ite government’s power.

But not all officials see the influx of foreign militants as bad news. Top Iraqi security official Maj. General Qassim al-Moussawi claimed that the influx proved AQI was struggling to recruit domestically. Whether this is true or not is still a matter of some speculation, but it seems clear that AQI remains a serious threat in Iraq.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.