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

July 2008

Dear Colleague,

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is pleased to announce the release of its second report of al-Qa'ida's foreign fighters in Iraq: Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al-Qa`ida's Road in and Out of Iraq. The report expands on an analysis of al-Qa'ida in Iraq personnel records conducted by the CTC in December 2007.

The report can be accessed at: http://www.ctc.usma.edu/harmony/pdf/Sinjar_2_July_23.pdf

New Raw Data

Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout not only expands on the analysis of the Sinjar Records conducted in the first report, it also introduces a host of new data, including:

* Statistics on the exact number and nationality of foreign fighters held by the US at Camp Bucca in Iraq.

* Contracts signed by AQI's foreign suicide bombers

* Contracts signed by AQI fighters entering and leaving Iraq

* Accounting sheets signed by various fighters that indicate funding sources and expenditures

* Several narratives describing AQI’s network in Syria, personnel problems, and ties to Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon

* Weapons reports, etc.


The report has several major new findings:

* Foreign Fighters were an important source of funds for AQI; Saudi Fighters contributed far more money than any other nationality

* Far more Syrians and Egyptians are held at Camp Bucca than were listed in the Sinjar Records, which likely reflects the demographic shift away from those nationalities

* Approximately 75% of suicide bombings in Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007 can be attributed to fighters listed in the Sinjar Records.

* “Bleedout” of fighters from Iraq is occurring, but in relatively small numbers. Nonetheless, these individual fighters will likely be well-trained and very dangerous. The primary threat from these fighters is to Arab states, Af-Pak, and perhaps Somalia.

* Smuggling of all kinds across the Syrian/Iraqi border has long been linked to corruption in both Syria and Iraq, which limits both government’s ability to crackdown.

* Fighters that contributed money to AQI were more likely to become suicide bombers.


Reid Sawyer
Major Reid L. Sawyer
Director, Combating Terrorism Center
Academy Professor
Lincoln Hall, Room 121
West Point, New York 10996