Al Qaeda’s New Hideouts

Jim Dunnigan writes,

Iraq has become a training and testing ground for al Qaeda recruits. Unlike pre-2001 Afghanistan, where the fighting was against anti-Taliban Afghans, in Iraq the enemy is American troops. This makes a big difference because the al Qaeda suffer much higher casualties fighting American and coalition troops. This may be why the coalition has been unable to identify more than a few hundred “foreign” fighters in Iraq. There may have been a few thousand a year ago, but most of them were killed in battles with American troops. These fighters were eager, but not well trained. Those few that survived and fled back to their home countries were probably not very helpful when it came to recruiting. War stories that feature your side getting wiped out tend to discourage new volunteers.

Al Qaeda is not dead. It is scattered and trying to reconstitute. It is having a hard time doing that, and that conflict is a large part of the war on terror.

Sounds an awful lot like the Flypaper Strategy to me.

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Terrorism, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steven says:

    Didn’t you watch MTP? Howard Dean clearly stated that Iraq has “nothing” to do with terrorism.

    Get with the program.

  2. Jim Henley says:

    That’s twice today I’ve seen someone write “The Al Qaeda.” What the heck are they thinking? “The The Base?” Makes no sense. Unless former one-hit wonders The The are actually behind the jihad.

  3. James Joyner says:

    That happens a lot with foreign words and with acroynyms. “The Rio Grande river” and “ATM machine” come to mind.

  4. Spain says:

    Yes, the flypaper strategy, we’re sold.

  5. Delta Dave says:

    Iraq for “The Al Qaeda” is where they go to make their “bones”…a little mafiaoso lingo there (maybe not).

  6. William says:

    Interesting theory, but it doesn’t explain why attacks on U.S. troops have been running at a relatively stable rate in Iraq, or Afghanistan for that matter.

  7. The article talked about how hard it is to recruit new people to face off against us–which isn’t exactly a flypaper strategy.

    I dunno. I hope /suspect we’re doing a lot more than waiting for them to come to us.


    P.S. The La Brea Tar Pits–apropos of both repeated articles in foreign phrases and The Flypaper Strategy.