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Saudi Rebels Cross The Border To Help Bleed US Forces To Death
Aug 20, 2003
Source: The Scotsman
The deadly bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad has come on the heels of reports that Islamic militants from several countries have been moving into Iraq to join battle with American forces.
A UK-based Saudi dissident, Saad al-Fagui, claimed this week that up to 3,000 men had gone "missing" from Saudi Arabia amid a crackdown on Islamic extremists. "The government assumption is that they have fled to Iraq," he said.
The US civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, pointed the finger of suspicion at Syria. "There are still foreign terrorists entering Iraq across the borders from Syria," he said recently.
The US in particular has singled out Syria for backing Hezbollah militants based in Lebanon.
Other experts suggest that the target, a hotel doubling up as a UN office, meant that an Islamist group opposed to any foreign intervention in Iraq was to blame.
The US has been struggling to pin the blame for the attacks on its forces on everyone from "remnants" of Saddam Husseinﾕs regime, to groups with connections to the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden.
But whoever is blamed following yesterdayﾕs attack, the disparate groups share a common enemy, experts say: US forces and those seen as their allies.
While the immediate target may have been a hotel frequented by foreigners, the goal was clear, suggested Magnus Ranstorp, the director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews.
"They are unified in intending to bleed the Americans to death, both psychologically and physically," he said. "They are pursuing a strategy of attrition, of inflicting a thousand cuts until the Americans or whoever else is there leave in disarray."
Mr Ranstorp said the influx of Saudi militants into Iraq had begun before the 12 May bombings of compounds housing foreigners in Riyadh, but said a Saudi security crackdown after the bombings might have boosted the numbers leaving the kingdom.
Attacks on American troops have become the daily fare in Iraq. They have claimed the lives of 61 US and seven British soldiers since the start of May.
But a car-bomb attack on the Jordanian embassy building on 8 August, killing 17, appeared to usher in a new phase - with reminders of the conflict in Beirut in the 1980s, where suicide lorry and car bombs emerged as deadly and effective weapons in the effort to drive out US and Western peacekeepers.
Jordan, though a long-time ally of Saddam Hussein, was led firmly into the US camp by King Abdullah II as the war with Iraq approached.
But Jordan has also been a leading US ally in the wider "war on terror" against Islamic extremism, fuelling speculation that an al-Qaeda linked group could also have been involved.
Daniel Neep, the head of the Middle East and North Africa programme at the Royal United Services Institute, said of the UN bombing: "I would very much suspect that this is not an isolated incident. It is part of a wider trend."
Mr Neep added: "The US is already very thinly stretched, and the expanded targets will make it even more stretched."
Ironically, the UN had just completed building a 12-foot high concrete wall around the Canal Hotel. But it proved little protection against a cement lorry said to have been loaded with nearly 500lbs of C4 explosives, said to be twice the amount used in the Jordanian bombing.
US forces have erected labyrinthine barriers around some civilian targets, meant to slow down approaching vehicles and contain any explosions. But the reluctance to keep large US troop force patrolling the perimeter of the building may have created a "soft target"
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Saudi rebels cross the border to help bleed US forces to death
The Scotsman 20 Aug 2003
THE deadly bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad has come on the heels of reports that Islamic militants from several countries have been moving into Iraq to join battle with American forces. A UK-based Saudi dissident, Saad al-Fagui, claim...