Suicide Bombers Use Syria As Gateway To Iraq

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Washington Examiner
April 11, 2007
By Rowan Scarborough, National Security Correspondent
WASHINGTON - Al-Qaida in Iraq is operating three main entry routes for suicide bombers coming into Iraq from Syria, despite more than three years of U.S. efforts to control the border and convince Damascus to evict the jihadists, an American military officer said Tuesday.
A bomber struck again in Iraq Tuesday, this time a woman who detonated a bomb under her black abaya, killing herself and 16 others at a police recruiting station. It could not be learned if she was an Iraqi or an imported terrorist. But the U.S. command says the vast majority of suicide bombers — al-Qaida’s principal means of attack — are foreigners.
The command says suicide attacks are up 30 percent since early February, when a new security crackdown began in greater Baghdad.
Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong, former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, said the Syrian boundary has proven too long and porous to fully control.
“Syria is not going to put anybody on their side, and you can’t have enough people on your side to cover the border,” DeLong said. “Until both sides of the border cooperate, the border is a sieve.”
In its latest quarterly report on stability in Iraq, the Pentagon said last month that Syria “remains the primary foreign fighter gateway into Iraq. Despite its heightened scrutiny of extremists and suspected insurgents, Damascus appears to want to appease Islamist extremist groups.”
An American military officer who recently returned from Iraq told The Examiner that al-Qaida recruits the Arab bombers, pays their way to Damascus, moves them to safe houses near the border and then facilitates the crossings, either at unguarded border spots or with fake passports.
There are three main smuggling routes: north to Mosul, then to Baghdad; a central route north of the Euphrates River to the capital; and a southern path along the river through Anbar province. The officer, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the crossings, estimated that about a dozen committed suicide-bomber recruits enter Iraq each week.
Once in Iraq, they move from safe house to safe house, kept separate from other recruited bombers. They typically are given the target only the day before they strike. American interrogators say captured jihadists tend to be poor, misguided youths who answered al-Qaida’s promise of martyrdom.
The 328,000-man Iraqi Security Force, which was financed and equipped by the U.S., includes 28,400 troops for border enforcement stationed in 420 outposts and forts. The military command augments the checkpoints with constant aerial surveillance of the 370-mile border with Syria.