The New Jihad

Michael Ware, writing in TIME, argues that the Iraq War has created “A New Jihad.”

The insurgents have no intention of laying down their arms. Indeed, the nature of the insurgency in Iraq is fundamentally changing. Time reported last fall that the insurgency was being led by members of the former Baathist regime, who were using guerrilla tactics in an effort to drive out foreign occupiers and reclaim power. But a Time investigation of the insurgency today—based on meetings with insurgents, tribal leaders, religious clerics and U.S. intelligence officials—reveals that the militants are turning the resistance into an international jihadist movement. Foreign fighters, once estranged from homegrown guerrilla groups, are now integrated as cells or complete units with Iraqis. Many of Saddam’s former secret police and Republican Guard officers, who two years ago were drinking and whoring, no longer dare even smoke cigarettes. They are fighting for Allah, they say, and true jihadis reject such earthly indulgences.

Their goal now, say the militants interviewed, is broader than simply forcing the U.S. to leave. They want to transform Iraq into what Afghanistan was in the 1980s: a training ground for young jihadists who will form the next wave of recruits for al-Qaeda and like-minded groups. Nearly all the new jihadist groups claim to be receiving inspiration, if not commands, from Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, the suspected al-Qaeda operative who the U.S. believes has masterminded the insurgency’s embrace of terrorism.

In fact, it’s the old one merely concentrated into a more convenient killing field. Much more on this in a piece I’m writing for publication elsewhere.

Hat tip: Kevin Aylward

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 and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alex Knapp says:

    WaPo has a similar story, but a different take–the internationalist jihad is actually driving other militants into the fold of the Iraqi government:

  2. paladin says:

    Some are calling into question what the Time reporter had to do to gain access to these radical groups – did he sell his soul, as Eason Jordon did at CNN? Was the reporter debriefed by our military? What is the responsibility of a journalist, if any, when they embed with the enemy? There has been some chatter about all this in the blogosphere – here’s one: