The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point just released a study on the foreign fighters streaming into Iraq. The new study, , edited by my colleague Brian Fishman, expands on an analysis of Al Qaeda in Iraq’s personnel records conducted by the CTC in December 2007. Chapters are written by Brian Fishman and Joseph Felter, Peter Bergen, Jacob Shapiro, and Vahid Brown.
Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout not only expands on the analysis of the Sinjar Records conducted in the first report but also introduces a host of new data. It contains statistics on the exact number and nationality of foreign fighters held by the United States at Camp Bucca in Iraq; contracts signed by AQI’s foreign suicide bombers; contracts signed by AQI fighters entering and leaving Iraq; accounting sheets signed by various fighters that indicate funding sources and expenditures; several narratives describing AQI’s network in Syria, personnel problems, and ties to Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon; weapons reports, and other documents. These documents can be downloaded from the CTC’s website.
Some of the report’s major findings are that foreign fighters were an important source of funds for Al Qaeda in Iraq, and that Saudi fighters contributed far more money than any other nationality. The report concludes that “bleedout” of fighters from Iraq is occurring, but in relatively small numbers. Nonetheless, these individual fighters will likely be well-trained and very dangerous. The primary threat from these fighters is to Arab states, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and possibly Somalia. A chapter devoted to smuggling finds that smuggling of all kinds takes place across the Syrian-Iraqi border, and is linked to rampant corruption in both countries.