Syria and the insurgents

In the wake of yet another series of murderous suicide car bombings in Iraq, it’s worth noting that there is no documented case in which a suicide attacker turned out to have been an Iraqi.

The recent heavy fighting near the Syrian border also involved jihadist foreign fighters rather than Iraqi insurgents, The Washington Post reports.

And according to Hiwa Osman of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting in Iraq:

Syria has been an important base and way station for these foreign fighters. Interviews with arrested “jihadis” and transcripts of interrogations obtained from Iraqi security and intelligence show that a typical jihadi’s journey from his city in Syria, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen or any other Arab country until the moment he blows himself up goes something like this: After deciding that he wants to fight the Americans in Iraq, he contacts mosques in Damascus known for recruiting mujaheddin for the holy war in Iraq. Often these recruitment campaigns are funded by senior Syrian officials.

After deciding that a person is fit to conduct a “martyrdom operation,” Syrian intelligence trains him on how to disguise his identity and how to handle explosives and ammunitions. Radical mullahs supplement this with heavy doses of hard-line religious teaching. The volunteer is then taken across the desert in eastern Syria, through the porous borders, into the Sunni triangle in Iraq, where he is housed by members of the former Baathist intelligence and security network. The second leg of the journey is to a safe house in Baghdad, where he is assigned a target to blow up or sent to certain areas to fight the Americans or the new Iraqi army and police forces.

Syria, in other words, is playing its usual double game– promising to establish diplomatic relations with Baghdad while covertly trying to undermine the new Iraqi government’s chances of success.

Assuming US and Iraqi officials can locate one or more of these insurgent training sites in Syria, wouldn’t an air strike be in order? I suspect President Assad– who has serenely ignored diplomatic pressure to stop aiding the insurgency– would get that message.