Iraq's Jordanian Jihadis

(New York Times) Nir Rosen - Jordan, long thought of as the quiet country of the Middle East, produced the man thought to be spearheading the deadliest aspects of the Iraqi insurgency - and who brought the fight back to Jordan in three hotel bombings last December: Ahmed Fadeel Nazal al-Khalayleh, better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after his hometown of Zarqa, an hour's drive north of Amman. What seems clear is that radical Islamism has not been vanquished by the U.S. military and that American policy in Iraq has had the unintended consequence of strengthening it. I drove to Irbid, hoping to learn more about what motivates young men to join the jihad in Iraq. My taxi driver recounted how his own cousin had suddenly picked up and left for Iraq in March 2003. Many young men from his own town of Zarqa, he said, including some who were not even religious, had poured over the border to fight the Americans. Where will this quiet but constant low-grade jihadi mobilization lead? If the American invasion of Iraq called forth a jihadi response, American withdrawal might likewise lead many men to put their rifles away and go back to selling cars, nuts, and mobile phones. At the same time, the withdrawal of the far enemy may leave jihadis with the feeling that they should return to battling the near enemies: their own governments.

2006-02-21 00:00:00

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