Why Aren't There More Jihadists?

[Washington Post] Reuel Marc Gerecht - It is by now accepted wisdom that the war in Iraq brought huge numbers of holy warriors to the anti-American cause. But is it true? If we make a comparison with the Soviet-Afghan war of 1979-89, which was the baptism for al-Qaeda, what's most striking is how few foreign holy warriors have gone to Iraq. While 25,000 Arab mujaheddin went to Pakistan to fight the Red Army, in Iraq we see nothing of this magnitude, even though Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, is in the Arab heartland and at the center of Islamic history. Furthermore, the arrival of foreign holy warriors is deradicalizing the local population. In Iraq, with the anti-al-Qaeda, Sunni Arab "Awakenings," Sunni extremism is now in retreat. If bin Ladenism is now on the decline - and it may well be among Arabs - then Iraq has played an essential part in battering the movement's spiritual appeal. The writer is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former case officer for the CIA.

2008-02-22 01:00:00

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