NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 4, 2005

Many of the terrorists fighting in Iraq come from outside the country. A new report from the Project for the Research of Islamist Movements (PRISM) states that most of these foreign terrorists are coming from Saudi Arabia.

The author analyzes the origins of 154 Arab jihadists killed in Iraq in the last six months, whose names have been posted on Islamist websites. The sample does not account for all jihadists in Iraq, but provides useful insight:

  • Saudi Arabia accounted for 94 jihadists, or 61 percent of the sample.
  • Iraq itself only accounted for 13 terrorists, 8 percent of the sample.
  • The total of 154 included 33 suicide terrorists, of whom 23 were Saudis.

The author argues, "the violent Jihad in Iraq against the Americans was encouraged by the Saudi Islamic establishment." In particular, he claims that Wahhabism -- a radical sect of Islam funded by the Saudi government -- is driving the terrorism in Iraq. Of the Saudi terrorists in Iraq, 43.5 percent of the suicide bombers and 65 percent of all jihadists originated in the region of Najd, known as the heartland of the Wahhabis.

Iraqis have noticed their presence. In late February, 2,000 people assembled in Hilla, near Baghdad, to protest a car bombing that killed at least 25. The demonstrators chanted, "No to terrorism! No to Baathism and Wahhabism!"

Source: Stephen Swartz, "The Face of Iraqi Terrorism," Weekly Standard, March 4, 2005; based upon: Reuven Paz, "Arab volunteers killed in Iraq: an Analysis," Global Research in International Affairs Center, The Project for the Research of Islamist Movements, Occasional Papers, Volume 3 , Number 1, March 2005.

For Swartz text

For Paz study


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