A “growing stream” of Muslim militantsYemenis in Jihad [Archives:2003/682/Front Page]

October 30 2003

By Yemen Times Staff
and News Services

Yemeni are active in fighting against occupation forces in Iraq, according to international media reports that note fighters from Yemen Yemeni are among a stream coming from the region to try to force U.S. forces out of Iraq.
Fighters from Lebanon and Syria are also believed to be part of foreign fighters in Iraq, according to the New York Times.
The US administration fears that their activities may increase further during the holy month of Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel said that an armed militant who failed an attempt to blow a police station in Baghdad turned to be a Yemeni with a Syrian passport.
“The intelligence officials say that since late summer they have detected a growing stream of itinerant Muslim militants [from Yemen and other countries] headed for Iraq,” the Times said.
Syria is being blamed for allowing the infiltration of such forces to Iraq.
The US administration has continuously blamed the Saddam Hussein toppled regime’s ‘fidaiyyeen’ for the attacks against its forces. However, more evidence suggests that fighters may be Islamists coming from other countries and not members of the Iraqi army.
The US government accuses Saddam Hussein’s loyalists for recruiting the foreign fighters, the Times said.
In all, as many as 15 militant groups may be operating in Iraq, officials said.
Yemenis were a large portion the Arabs who fought against the USSR in the 1980s to gain Afghanistan’s independence.
“Iraq is a magnet for jihadists just as Afghanistan was,” a senior US official said.
The report also added that mosque preachers have intensified their calls for Jihad during the days of Ramadan, encouraging more Yemenis and other Arabs to go for Jihad in Iraq.
A senior British official, who was in Iraq in September, said most of the foreign men captured there were from the Middle East — Syria, Lebanon and Yemen — or North Africa. He described them as “young, angry men” motivated by the “anti-British, anti-American rhetoric that fills their ears every day.”
Signs of a movement to Iraq have also been detected in Europe. Jean-Louis Brugui're, France’s top investigative judge on terrorism, said dozens of poor and middle-class Muslim men had left France for Iraq since the summer. He said some of them appeared to have been inspired by exhortations of Qaeda leaders, even if they were not trained by Al Qaeda, according to the Times report.
But the report also said that a senior European intelligence official said he doubted that Al Qaeda had established a strong enough organization in Baghdad to pull off attacks, given how fractured Mr. bin Laden’s network appears to be.
“Al Qaeda would need a level of organization and sophistication that I don’t think it currently has,” he said. But he said he did believe that some Qaeda members were now in Iraq “trying to stir up trouble.”