This story illustrates one of the reasons I think, despite the uncertainties and difficulties entailed, it is important for the United States to get out of Iraq as quickly as possible. It relates that about two dozen men from the city of Tetouan in Norocco have traveled to Iraq to participate with al-Qaida in insurgent/terrorist activities against American and Iraqi government forces. At least two suicide bombers have been identified through DNA evidence as being from Morocco. Moroccan authorities say "they have identified more than 50 volunteers who have gone to Iraq since 2003, and many more are believed to have made the journey undetected."
Not only are these young Moroccans creating trouble in Iraq, they are gaining valuable experience in guerrilla warfare and other terrorist-related activities. Some of them will probably be killed, or will kill themselves, in Iraq, but not all of them will. They may return to their home countries or they may go elsewhere after spending time in Iraq. Whatever they do they will have been "blooded" and have gained experience that will make them more effective terrorists in the future.
Moroccan authorities report that al-Qaida has established a stronger presence than ever before since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Al-Qaida uses the U.S. presence in Iraq as a recruiting tool. Without that presence, what would be the incentive for young Moroccans to travel 3,000 miles to better learn the tradecraft of terrorism? The U.S. presence in Iraq also seems to have energized militants not just in Morocco but throughout northern Africa.
Several groups that used to operate independently have announced that they have put aside their differences to become "al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb," one name for the African lands north of the Sahara. It claimed responsibility for a coordinated attack Feb. 13 on seven targets, mostly police stations, near Algiers, where six people were killed.
Most observers by now should know that the idea that luring terrorists from around the world to Iraq so we can kill them all is a side benefit of the war in Iraq, as some administration apologists used to contend not so long ago, is the stuff of fantasy. Instead, as happened in Afghanistan when the Soviets occupied it, when the U.S. subsidized the insurgents and supplied them weapons, we may be helping to give birth to an even more widespread and international terrorist movement by providing a place for would-be terrorists from around the world to gain experience and skills.