Released just before Christmas and available here for full download, the CTC at West Point has done a stellar job analyzing the Al Qai'ida records captured in the raid near Sinjar along Iraq's Syrian border in October 2007.
Highlights from the Conclusion include (Hyperlinks are mine):
- "Saudis made up the largest contingent of foreign fighters entering Iraq. Libyans were second (first if measured in percapita terms) and Syrians a distant third. In terms of sheer numbers, Saudis constituted the largest group of foreign fighters and contributed the most overall suicide bombers, but the percentage of Saudi fighters listed as suicide bombers was actually lower than non‐Saudis."
- "Recent political developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the prevalence of Libyan fighters in Iraq, and evidence of a well‐established smuggling route for Libyans through Egypt, suggests that Libyan factions (primarily the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) are increasingly important in al‐Qa’ida."
- "The Sinjar Records reinforce anecdotal accounts suggesting that al‐Qa’ida’s Iraqi affiliates rely on smugglers and criminals—rather than their own personnel—to funnel recruits into Iraq."
- "Many of the foreign fighters entering Iraq arrived with a group from their hometown, suggesting that al‐Qa’ida’s recruiters try to attract groups of friends simultaneously."
- "The majority of fighters that listed their occupation before traveling to Iraq were students. Universities have become a critical recruiting field for al‐Qa’ida."
- "Al‐Qa’ida’s reliance on criminal and smuggling networks exposes it to the greed of mercenaries. In many cases, the United States should target work to destroy these networks, but the U.S. must remain flexible enough to recognize opportunities to co‐opt, rather than simply annihilate, such systems."
- "The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s unification with al‐Qa’ida and its apparent decision to prioritize providing logistical support to the Islamic State of Iraq is likely controversial within the organization."
- "The Islamic State of Iraq has failed politically because it has been unable to balance the practical demands of its local Iraqi constituency and the religious demands of its foreign supporters."
- "The Syrian and Libyan governments share the United States’ concerns about violent salafi‐jihadi ideology and the violence perpetrated by its adherents. These governments, like others in the Middle East, fear violence inside their borders and would much rather radical elements go to Iraq rather than cause unrest at home. U.S. and Coalition efforts to stem the flow of fighters into Iraq will be enhanced if they address the entire logistical chain that supports the movement of these individuals—beginning in their home countries – rather than just their Syrian entry points."