The Middle East Channel

The enemies of our enemy

In September 2007, U.S. soldiers raided a desert encampment outside the town of Sinjar in northwest Iraq, looking for insurgents. Amid the tents, they made a remarkable discovery: a trove of personnel files — more than 700 in all — detailing the origins of the foreign fighters al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had brought into ...

AFP/Getty images
AFP/Getty images

In September 2007, U.S. soldiers raided a desert encampment outside the town of Sinjar in northwest Iraq, looking for insurgents. Amid the tents, they made a remarkable discovery: a trove of personnel files -- more than 700 in all -- detailing the origins of the foreign fighters al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had brought into the country to fight against coalition forces.

The Sinjar records -- which we analyzed extensively in a series of reports for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center -- revealed that at least 111 Libyans entered Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007. That was about 18 percent of AQI's incoming fighters during that period, a contribution second only to Saudi Arabia's (41 percent) and the highest number of fighters per capita than any other country noted in the records.

Read more.

In September 2007, U.S. soldiers raided a desert encampment outside the town of Sinjar in northwest Iraq, looking for insurgents. Amid the tents, they made a remarkable discovery: a trove of personnel files — more than 700 in all — detailing the origins of the foreign fighters al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had brought into the country to fight against coalition forces.

The Sinjar records — which we analyzed extensively in a series of reports for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center — revealed that at least 111 Libyans entered Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007. That was about 18 percent of AQI’s incoming fighters during that period, a contribution second only to Saudi Arabia’s (41 percent) and the highest number of fighters per capita than any other country noted in the records.

Read more.

Brian Fishman is a counterterrorism research fellow at the New America Foundation.

Joseph Felter served as deputy assistant secretary of defense from 2017 to 2019 and is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

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