« | »

Shocker: Iraqis Become Terrorists For Money

From a shocked and disillusioned Washington Post:

A US soldier collects the fingerprints of an Iraqi man next to a sign that reads “Infidel, there’s no place to hide” hung by his comrades during a large operation launched in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, April 2007.

Iraqis Joining Insurgency Less for Cause Than Cash

By Amit R. Paley
Tuesday, November 20, 2007; A01

MOSUL, Iraq — Abu Nawall, a captured al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, said he didn’t join the Sunni insurgent group here to kill Americans or to form a Muslim caliphate. He signed up for the cash.

“I was out of work and needed the money,” said Abu Nawall, the nom de guerre of an unemployed metal worker who was paid as much as $1,300 a month as an insurgent. He spoke in a phone interview from an Iraqi military base where he is being detained. “How else could I support my family?”

U.S. military commanders say that insurgents across the country are increasingly motivated more by money than ideology and that a growing number of insurgent cells, struggling to pay recruits, are turning to gangster-style racketeering operations.

U.S. military officials have responded by launching a major campaign to disrupt al-Qaeda in Iraq’s financial networks and spread propaganda that portrays its leaders as greedy thugs, an effort the officials describe as a key factor in their recent success beating down the insurgency…

In a 30-minute interview, Abu Nawall described his work managing the $6 million or so annual budget of the Mosul branch of the Islamic State of Iraq, an insurgent umbrella group believed to have been formed by al-Qaeda in Iraq…

Abu Nawall said he joined the group over the summer because his metalworking business had dried up. The 28-year-old said he was responsible for running the bureaucracy and arranging payments to the 500 or so fighters for the group in the city, who he said try to carry out as many as 30 attacks a day.

“Most of our money comes from payments we receive from places like Syria and from kidnappings,” Abu Nawall said, adding that ransoms can reach $50,000 a person. But he denied U.S. claims that attacks in the city had dropped or that the group’s funding had stopped. “We still have money,” he said…

Abu Nawall and his captors agreed that Iraqis were joining the insurgency out of economic necessity. “Of course we hate the Americans and want them gone immediately,” Abu Nawall said. “But the reason I and many others joined the Islamic State of Iraq is to support our families.”

Abu Nawall described himself as a middle-management accountant for the insurgency, but he acknowledged killing four Iraqi police officers because he viewed them as collaborators with the U.S. military. He said he was not primarily involved in ordering violent attacks.

Brig. Gen. Moutaa Habeeb Jassim, commander of the 2nd Division of the Iraqi army, which has been holding Abu Nawall since his capture earlier this fall, said he suspected the detainee was responsible for far more deaths and had been involved with the insurgency since last year. “Abu Nawall is not always telling the truth,” Habeeb said…

American officials said that Abu Nawall is just the latest Sunni financier detained as part of a campaign this year to disrupt the group’s funding networks…

The racketeering operations extended to nearly every type of business in the city, including a Pepsi plant, cement manufacturers and a cellphone company, which paid the insurgents $200,000 a month, Twitty said.

One of the biggest sources of income was a real estate scam, in which insurgents stole 26 ledgers that contained the deeds to at least $88 million worth of property and then resold them, according to Lt. Col. Eric Welsh, commander of the battalion responsible for Mosul.

Mosul is the central hub in Iraq for wiring money to the insurgency from Syria and other countries, Welsh said, with three of the largest banks in the country that transfer money operating branches in the city. He said U.S. forces have shut down several such money exchanges in Mosul.

U.S. forces detained a major al-Qaeda in Iraq financier Sept. 25 with a passport that showed he had been to Syria 30 times, according to a military summary of his capture.

Another man, captured by the Iraqi army Sept. 3, is thought to be the No. 1 al-Qaeda in Iraq financier in Nineveh province, responsible for negotiating the release of kidnapping victims, according to another military summary. It said he was found with checks totaling 775 million dinars, or $600,000…

The challenge for U.S. troops is how to break the racketeering operations controlled by al-Qaeda in Iraq without destroying the legitimate business needed to rebuild the country. “It’s just like gardening,” Welsh said, “I could spray herbicide everywhere and easily kill all the weeds. But what’s the point if I kill all the flowers, too?”

Interestingly enough (at least to me), both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran positive stories about Iraq on their front pages today.

But neither of these stories was featured in their (RSS) feeds. Nor are they featured very prominently on their websites.

Why is that, do you think?

Abu Nawall described himself as a middle-management accountant for the insurgency…

It’s positively Monty Pythonesque.

Except it isn’t funny at all.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, November 20th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Shocker: Iraqis Become Terrorists For Money”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »