Iraq: now a net exporter of terrorism?

Well, perhaps not yet. But we’re getting there. Interesting New York Times report this morning…

The Iraq war, which for years has drawn militants from around the world, is beginning to export fighters and the tactics they have honed in the insurgency to neighboring countries and beyond, according to American, European and Middle Eastern government officials and interviews with militant leaders in Lebanon, Jordan and London.

Some of the fighters appear to be leaving as part of the waves of Iraqi refugees crossing borders that government officials acknowledge they struggle to control. But others are dispatched from Iraq for specific missions. In the Jordanian airport plot, the authorities said they believed that the bomb maker flew from Baghdad to prepare the explosives for Mr. Darsi.

Estimating the number of fighters leaving Iraq is at least as difficult as it has been to count foreign militants joining the insurgency. But early signs of an exodus are clear, and officials in the United States and the Middle East say the potential for veterans of the insurgency to spread far beyond Iraq is significant…

I have a hazy memory of George Bush explaining to an interviewer how Iraq would become a ‘turkey shoot’. He seemed to imply that if the war sucked in Al Queda from abroad then that would be a good thing because they would all be in one place and ripe for elimination by the ‘Coalition of the Willing’. My memory also records that he actually said “Bring ’em on!”

Can this be true? Perhaps I dreamt it.

Later… No I didn’t dream it. According to USA Today, 7 February, 2003,

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush said Wednesday that American troops under fire in Iraq aren’t about to pull out, and he challenged those tempted to attack U.S. forces, “Bring them on.”


Bush pledged to find and punish “anybody who wants to harm American troops,” and said the attacks would not weaken his resolve to restore peace and order in Iraq.

“There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring them on,” Bush said. “We’ve got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.”

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush’s combative tone was not meant to invite attacks on Americans. “I think what the president was expressing there is his confidence in the men and women of the military to handle the military mission they still remain in the middle of,” Fleischer said.

But Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., called the president’s language “irresponsible and inciteful.”

“I am shaking my head in disbelief,” Lautenberg said. “When I served in the Army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander — let alone the commander in chief — invite enemies to attack U.S. troops.”

Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., said, “I have a message for the president: enough of the phony, macho rhetoric.”

“We should be focused on a long-term security plan that reduces the danger to our military personnel,” said Gephardt, who is running for president. “We need a serious attempt to develop a postwar plan for Iraq, and not more shoot-from-the-hip one-liners.”