Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the War in Iraq is increasing the terrorist threat

Bush keeps saying that we are fighting the terrorists over in Iraq so that we don't have to fight them here in America, and that if we leave Iraq, the terrorists will follow us back and attack us in "The Homeland." [That term is still jarring to me - sounds like something Goebbels would have used.]

The trouble is, Bush never offers any statistics or facts that back up his assertions. So Mother Jones has pulled together the available facts and written this article.
Our study shows that the Iraq War has generated a stunning sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and thousands of civilian lives lost; even when terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal attacks in the rest of the world have increased by more than one-third.

We are not making the argument that without the Iraq War, jihadist terrorism would not exist, but our study shows that the Iraq conflict has greatly increased the spread of the Al Qaeda ideological virus, as shown by a rising number of terrorist attacks in the past three years from London to Kabul, and from Madrid to the Red Sea.

In our study we focused on the following questions:

* Has jihadist terrorism gone up or down around the world since the invasion of Iraq?
* What has been the trend if terrorist incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan (the military fronts of the "war on terrorism") are excluded?
* Has terrorism explicitly directed at the United States and its allies also increased? [Snip]

Our study draws its data from the MIPT-RAND Terrorism database (available at, which is widely considered to be the best publicly available database on terrorism incidents. RAND defines a terrorist attack as an attack on a civilian entity designed to promote fear or alarm and further a particular political agenda. In our study we only included attacks that caused at least one fatality and were attributed by RAND to a known jihadist group.

Our study yields one resounding finding: The rate of terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups and the rate of fatalities in those attacks increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the average fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, which accounts for fully half of the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks in the post-Iraq War period. But even excluding Iraq, the average yearly number of jihadist terrorist attacks and resulting fatalities still rose sharply around the world by 265 percent and 58 percent respectively.[Snip]

[E]ven when attacks in both Afghanistan and Iraq (the two countries that together account for 80 percent of attacks and 67 percent of deaths since the invasion of Iraq) are excluded, there has still been a significant rise in jihadist terrorism elsewhere--a 35 percent increase in the number of jihadist terrorist attacks outside of Afghanistan and Iraq, from 27.6 to 37 a year, with a 12 percent rise in fatalities from 496 to 554 per year.[Snip]

It was the capture and killing of much of Al Qaeda’s leadership after 9/11 and the breakup of its training camp facilities in Afghanistan--not the war in Iraq--that prevented Al Qaeda from successfully launching attacks on American targets on the scale it did in the years before 9/11.

Also undermining the argument that Al Qaeda and like-minded groups are being distracted from plotting against Western targets are the dangerous, anti-American plots that have arisen since the start of the Iraq War. Jihadist terrorists have attacked key American allies since the Iraq conflict began, mounting multiple bombings in London that killed 52 in July 2005, and attacks in Madrid in 2004 that killed 191. Shehzad Tanweer, one of the London bombers, stated in his videotaped suicide "will," "What have you witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq." There have been six jihadist attacks on the home soil of the United States’ NATO allies (including Turkey) in the period after the invasion of Iraq, whereas there were none in the 18 months following 9/11; and, of course, the plan uncovered in London in August 2006 to smuggle liquid explosives onto U.S. airliners, had it succeeded, would have killed thousands.

Al Qaeda has not let the Iraq War distract it from targeting the United States and her allies. In a January 19, 2006 audiotape, Osama bin Laden himself refuted President Bush’s argument that Iraq had distracted and diverted Al Qaeda: "The reality shows that that the war against America and its allies has not remained limited to Iraq, as he claims, but rather, that Iraq has become a source and attraction and recruitment of qualified people.... As for the delay in similar [terrorist] operations in America, [the] operations are being prepared, and you will witness them, in your own land, as soon as preparations are complete."
These conclusions are the result of looking at the publicly available data. They are diametrically opposite of what Bush and Cheney have said which strongly suggests that they have been lying to try to justify the disaster they have created in Iraq and the Middle East.

Has anyone seen that TV ad for telephones in which the pitchman stands up and makes assertions about the qualities of the network he is selling, and after each one he looks back at his attorney for approval. He gets approval for everything he says until he asserts that the network protects customers from meteors, when the lawyer shakes his head "No."

Bush and Cheney should never be interviewed or allowed to give a speech without an honest expert confirming or denying each assertion. The expert needs to be shown on TV in a small window like a sign language interpreter. If they won't accept such a "Truth-teller", they should be ignored and never again given publicity for their lies.

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