Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road in and Out of Iraq

Recent CTC Publications

Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road in and Out of Iraq

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

Key Findings

Policy Recommendations

2. Introduction

3. Figures: Maps, Tables, Charts

4. Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: Al‐Qa`ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq

Chapter 1. Foreign Fighters in Historical Perspective: The Case of Afghanistan

By Vahid Brown

Chapter 1 explains the role foreign fighters played during the anti‐Soviet Jihad in Afghanistan during the 1980s, providing context that is critical to understanding the role that foreign fighters currently play in Iraq. Brown’s discussion of Afghan Arabs alienating local Afghani mujahidin is particularly relevant considering the formation of anti‐al‐Qa`ida movements in Iraq. The chapter also helps us measure the prospect of foreign fighters in Iraq contributing to violent movements outside of Iraq, whether in the Arab world, Europe, or the United States.

Chapter 2. The Demographics of Recruitment, Finances, and Suicide

By Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman

In Chapter 2, Felter and Fishman expand on their preliminary analysis of the Sinjar Records released in December 2007. Incorporating even more data on foreign fighters in Iraq and using new analytical techniques, Felter and Fishman assess the factors that may have contributed to foreign fighters traveling to Iraq and explore the networks that funnel those fighters to Iraq. They provide the first hard evidence that foreign fighters of Saudi origin contribute more money to al‐Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI) than individuals from other countries, explore the dynamics of AQI’s logistics networks in Syria, and offer an open‐source assessment of the percentage of suicide attacks in Iraq committed by foreign fighters.

Chapter 3. Bureaucratic Terrorists: Al‐Qa`ida in Iraq’s Management and Finances

By Jacob Shapiro

In Chapter 3, Shapiro explores al‐Qa`ida in Iraq’s finances and bureaucracy. Analyzing AQI’s spending patterns and accounting structures, Shapiro provides new insights into what the organization prioritizes and how it controls its agents. Among other insights, Shapiro reveals that AQI receives a large percentage of its funding from foreign fighters and likely has become more bureaucratic to rein in operators who use violence wantonly and thereby degrade fundraising opportunities. Shapiro also offers creative recommendations on how to use these insights to undermine AQI.

Chapter 4. Smuggling, Syria, and Spending

By Anonymous

Chapter 4 describes AQI’s smuggling efforts between Syria and Iraq’s Nineveh Province. Drawing on his extensive experience on the ground, the author describes smuggling networks and tribal relations, two elements critical for AQI’s human smuggling and the movement of goods and money. Importantly, Jihadis looking to leave Iraq may use these same networks to exit the country. The author also assesses AQI’s spending patterns in the border region.

Chapter 5. Beyond Iraq: The Future of AQI

By Peter Bergen

Chapter 5 looks to the future. Where will Jihadis in Iraq go if they leave? Using historical analogies and an assessment of current political dynamics around the Middle East, Bergen analyzes AQI’s interests and opportunities to bring Iraq‐style violence to other locations, in the Mideast and beyond. He concludes that the number of fighters leaving Iraq will be relatively small, but they will be highly‐skilled, and reminds us that a US withdrawal from Iraq will not necessarily end the flow of foreign fighters.

Addendum A: Author Biographies


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