Yahoo news story:
Insurgents Infiltrating Iraq Have Cash
By JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Iraq (news - web sites)'s new security forces are heavily infiltrated by insurgents, and the guerrilla groups have access to almost unlimited money to pay for deadly attacks, according to a U.S. defense official who provided new details on the evolution of the rebels. A significant part of the insurgents' money is coming from sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government is neglecting the problem, said the official, who was authorized by the Pentagon (news - web sites) to speak on the issue this week, but only on condition of anonymity.
Money is flowing into Iraq through Syria, the official said.
in both cases, it comes from a diffuse network of supporters, funneled through charities, tribal relations, and businesses — not necessarily the same funding networks that transfer money to al-Qaida from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, but following a similar model, the official said.
Saudi government officials have repeatedly said they are cracking down on money networks that support terrorism, but their focus has been primarily on stopping al-Qaida, not the Iraqi resistance. A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Some experts called the money trail new evidence that the Iraqi resistance has gained support in the Arab world.
"The overall resistance in Iraq is popular and is getting more popular in the Arab world," said Vince Cannistraro, a former counterterrorism chief for the Central Intelligence Agency (news - web sites).
But Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst in Washington, said the U.S. government has presented little evidence to support its claims of notable foreign involvement in Iraqi insurgency, be it from Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia.
"You get a different story from virtually every official," Cordesman said. Any money flowing to terrorist groups from the Arabian peninsula more likely would pass through banks in Europe, making it difficult for Arab governments to track, he said.
The defense official said Syria, which has received a great deal more public Bush administration criticism than Saudi Arabia, is a transit point for people and money.
While President Bashar Assad's government has offered support in stopping this, it can do little to halt Syria's Baathists from giving money to their Iraqi counterparts, nor can it prevent corrupt border guards from letting weapons and fighters into Iraq, the official said.
Saddam also had about $1 billion stashed away in Syria, the official said. About half of that money has been recovered, the defense official said, but the rest may be available to the insurgency.
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said recently that an upswing in casualties reflected a more effective Iraqi insurgency.
"The enemy is becoming more sophisticated," Myers said. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has blamed "a combination of terrorists, former regime elements and criminals" for the continuing violence.
The defense official described a country where a fearful citizenry doesn't fully accept the concepts of Western law and order and remains unwilling to take their future into their own hands, where police are often corrupt and the security forces are "heavily infiltrated" by insurgents.
In some cases, members of the Iraqi security services have developed sympathies and contacts with the guerrillas; in other cases, infiltrators were sent to join the groups, the official said.
The official pointed to a mortar attack Tuesday on an Iraqi National Guard compound near Baghdad as a probable inside job. The attackers apparently knew precisely when and where the unit's members were gathering and dropped mortar rounds in the middle of their formation. At least four Iraqis were killed and 80 wounded.
U.S. military analysts foresee little chance of the insurgency evaporating during the next few years, the official said. Attacks have increased by about 25 percent since the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that began last weekend, with most of the attacks car bombs and strikes on civilians, rather than direct assaults on U.S. forces.
Yet a great deal of the country's violence is criminal in nature, the official said, estimating that 80 percent of violent acts are committed by criminals, not insurgents.
The official blamed much of the criminal violence on 90,000 people Saddam freed from his jails in the last days of his regime. Many of those criminals are available as contract guerillas — performing bombings and kidnappings for insurgents for money.
Of the rest of the violence, 80 percent is thought to be committed by Iraqis — not foreigners — acting out of nationalistic or Islamic extremist motivations, the official said.
The attacks by foreign fighters are fewer in number but more spectacular, particularly those conducted by the network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — the Jordanian extremist responsible for many hostage takings and beheadings — who last weekend announced his group was merging with al-Qaida.
The new arrangement probably provides Zarqawi with a boost in stature, and will probably improve his recruiting and fund raising, the official said.
Zarqawi himself is able to move freely from his home base in Fallujah — a city operating outside the control of the U.S.-backed central government — to cities across north-central Iraq, where he has cells, the official said. His organization has been unable to establish a lasting presence elsewhere in the country.
The native Iraqi resistance, far larger than Zarqawi's forces, is built upon former members of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s intelligence services, paramilitary forces and militias, although it draws from the general public, the official said.
Or Iran. Or Baath stashes that Saddam's flunkies snuck out of Iraq into Syria.
when are we going to figure out how to drill through the earth's core so we can take the oil from underneath?