Jihad After Iraq: Lessons from the Arab Afghans Phenomenon
Hafez, Mohammed M.
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Nearly two decates ago, Arabs who volunteered to aid the anti-Soviet struggle in Afghanistan dispersed from the conflict zone to pursue their newfound passion: jihad in the path of God. Known as “Arab Afghans,” these veterans participated in national insurgencies and civil wars, facilitated international terrorism and became ideologues of global jihad. Today, Iraq’s global jihadists are facing a similar moment. Al-Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI) is under tremendous military pressure from Sunni tribes, nationalist insurgents and U.S.- Iraqi counter-insurgency operations. There is a distinct possibility that AQI could be driven out of Iraq in the near future. It is unclear, however, what the movement will do next. The experiences of Arab Afghans suggest that the defeat of AQI may generate new threats associated with the dispersal of its fighters in the region and around the world. Therefore, it is vitally important to revisit the experiences of the Arab Afghans to develop lessons for present day Iraq.
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