In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.The key point to look at is this:
The influx of money has bolstered Al Qaeda's leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping and reasserting influence over its far-flung network. The trend also signals a reversal in the traditional flow of Al Qaeda funds, with the network's leadership surviving to a large extent on money coming in from its most profitable franchise, rather than distributing funds from headquarters to distant cells.
"Iraq is a big moneymaker for them," said a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official.This information comes from a renewal of effort by the CIA in Pakistan to target bin Laden and his deputy, al Zawahiri.
The evolving picture of Al Qaeda's finances is based in part on intelligence from an aggressive effort launched last year to intensify the pressure on Bin Laden and his senior deputies.This is a reversal of priority for the Bush administration. Late in 2005 the CIA disbanded the special unit which had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants.
As part of a so-called surge in personnel, the CIA deployed as many as 50 clandestine operatives to Pakistan and Afghanistan — a dramatic increase over the number of CIA case officers permanently stationed in those countries. All of the new arrivals were given the primary objective of finding what counter-terrorism officials call "HVT1" and "HVT2." Those "high value target" designations refer to Bin Laden and Zawahiri.
The surge was part of a broader shake-up at the CIA designed to refocus on the hunt for Bin Laden, officials said. One former high-ranking agency official said the CIA had formed a task force that involved officials from all four directorates at the agency, including analysts, scientists and technical experts, as well as covert operators.
The officials were charged with reinvigorating a search that had atrophied when some U.S. intelligence assets and special forces teams were pulled out of Afghanistan in 2002 to prepare for the war with Iraq.
More from the LA Times Article:
In a written response to questions from The Times, the CIA said it "does not as a rule discuss publicly the details of clandestine operations," but acknowledged it had stepped up operations against Bin Laden and defended their effectiveness.This kind of effort is what the attack on al Qaeda after 9/11 should have looked like. Instead, for some reason the Bush administration used the opportunity to redirect American efforts in the a fruitless preemptive attack on Iraq which has reduced American security rather than increased it.
"The surge has been modest in size, here and overseas, but has added new skills and fresh thinking to the fight against a resilient and adaptive foe," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in the statement. "It has paid off, generating more information about Al Qaeda and helping take terrorists off the street."
The CIA spies are part of a broader espionage arsenal aimed at Bin Laden and Zawahiri that includes satellites, electronic eavesdropping stations and the unmanned airplanes.
The results of the misguided decision to attack Iraq instead of al Qaeda are surprisingly expressed by President Jimmy Carter recently and published in the International Herald Tribune:
"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," the Nobel Peace Prize winner told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story that appeared in the newspaper's Saturday editions. "The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me."Think about that. America's values as seen to be applied around the world were one of the strongest elements that led to America's success over the Soviet Union in the Cold War. By reversing those values the Bush administration has made America a much less powerful nation in moral terms. The occupation of Iraq on no real security grounds is seen as the reversal of American moral values among other things.
The U.S. occupation of Iraq is a major element in strengthening al Qaeda, and contributes greatly to the violence in that country. Cheney, Bush and the Bush administration argues that the U.S. cannot pull out of Iraq without strengthening al Qaeda and leaving behind even greater violence and chaos than is there right now, but all fact-based indicators suggest that it is the presence of our troops which motivates much of the trouble in that country.
A good analogy might be that the U.S, troops in Iraq are the equivalent of a stick in a wasps nest being shaken around, and the wasps will continue to attack anything close to the nest until the stick is removed, at which time they will calm down.
The funds flowing from Iraq to al Qaeda is just another example of excited wasps reacting to the presence of the stick (the American troops) in Iraq. We will greatly help the iraqi people and ourselves when we remove our troops from Iraqi soil. The sooner the better. The arguments against our pull-out have little left to support them if our presence there is strengthening al Qaeda and its affiliates while it motivates Iraqis themselves to attack our troops.