Danger Posed by Iraq Returnees

  • 13 February 2008

In the last few years, concerns have been raised over the possible dangers posed by “returnees from Iraq.” For quite some time it appeared that the danger had been averted, but recent indicators suggest that this threat has now become a real and immediate one. Members of terrorist groups that are facing a tough time against Iraqi security forces and are riddled with their own internal divisions have started leaving Iraq. These terrorist elements now face two options— either to return to their countries of origin or to move to other states for the resumption of their terrorist activities.

Undoubtedly, the weakness of Al-Qaeda in Iraq can be seen as victory for those fighting a war against terrorism in that country, but this does not necessarily mean a victory for the global war against terrorism. Iraq is not the last warfront, nor is it the most difficult or dangerous one at that. The threat of terrorism extends beyond a single country, as its source lies in extremist thought that exploits a variety of economic, security and political circumstances. For this reason, some military leaders in Iraq have recently issued warnings against some runaway Al-Qaeda members to countries in the region and have asked them to raise the alarm against these terrorists. This is being done to prevent a repeat of the scenario of “the returnees from Afghanistan,” who had spread violence and terrorism in several Arab countries at that time, and which had not been anticipated in advance. For this reason, the problem had become a major threat to the Middle East region over time. Obviously, the region had to pay for it at the expense of its security, stability, economic growth, relations with other states, and the blood of its citizens.

The signs of the danger posed by “returnees from Iraq” became noticeable with terrorist operations increasing in Arab countries of northern Africa. Reports suggested that terrorists responsible of these attacks were previously operating in Iraq. Even Al-Qaeda’s messages have frequently referred to this trend. These operations have clearly increased in recent times as terrorist operations have increased in the Middle East.

If “the returnees from Afghanistan” were responsible for causing great disturbance and destruction, “the returnees from Iraq” would be dangerous for similar as well as other reasons. These terrorists are returning at a time when a global war against terrorism is being waged. This was not the case at when Arab countries were confronting the threat from “Afghanistan returnees.” In addition, the operations of these terrorists reveal that they are more belligerent and bloodier compared to their earlier generation. For this reason, the Middle East region needs to be vigilant and requires intensive cooperation for facing the danger that targets all sides.