RealNews

Iraq Seen as Al Qaeda's Top Battlefield

Terrorist network and its affiliates are aiding Hussein loyalists, coalition officials say. Answering Osama bin Laden’s call for holy war in Iraq, hundreds of followers from at least eight nations have entered the country and are playing a major role in attacking Western targets and Iraqi civilians, U.S. and Iraqi officials say. Operatives of the Al Qaeda terrorist network and affiliated extremist groups are collaborating with Saddam Hussein loyalists, officials say, forming an array of shadowy alliances that are emerging as one of the biggest challenges to U.S.-led efforts to bring stability to the war-torn country. Some officials believe that Iraq is replacing Afghanistan as the global center of Islamic jihad and becoming the prime locale for extremist Muslim fighters who are eager to confront Americans on Arab soil. As many as 2,000 Muslim fighters from as far as Sudan, Algeria and Afghanistan are operating in Iraq, officials say. Ansar al Islam, an Iraqi group that was previously active in northern Iraq, also has made a comeback, officials say. The Bush administration says Ansar has ties to Al Qaeda. Full Story

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