BAGHDAD ø The U.S. military has established that Al Qaida-aligned
insurgents from North Africa have played a leading role in the Sunni
insurgency in Iraq.
Officials said about half of the insurgents captured in Samara last week
were nationals from Arab states in North Africa. They said an initial
interrogation has determined that the insurgents arrived from such countries
as Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia.
About 150 insurgents were said to have been killed in the combination of air
and ground strikes by U.S. units and Iraqi forces, Middle East Newsline reported.
U.S. officials said insurgents from such countries as Algeria, Egypt,
Sudan and Tunisia have been recruited for operations against the
Multinational Force in Iraq. They said many of the insurgents were recruited
by the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call, based in Algeria and regarded
as the leading subcontractor for Al Qaida.
The presence of North African insurgents was highlighted during the U.S.
military operation to capture Samara, under the control of a coalition of
Saddam Hussein supporters and Al Qaida-aligned agents since October 2003.
The insurgents were said to have been recruited by Salafist operatives
in North Africa and transported to Iraq via Syria. Many of them then joined
the Tawhid and Jihad group, headed by Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, regarded as the
most lethal insurgent in Iraq. The recruits were provided with Iraqi
government documents that listed their professions as everything from
electricians to farmers.
Officials said resistance by Saddam and Al Qaida-aligned forces
continues despite the capture of Samara. They said the military has not
captured the heads of the insurgency.
The U.S. military and the Defense Department has assessed that the
lion's share of insurgency attacks have been conducted by former members of
Saddam's military and security forces. But they said the suicide bombings in
Baghdad and cities in the Sunni Triangle have often included foreign