Monday, June 20, 2005
No one in U.S. intelligence seems ready to say the fight is hopeless. But no one is sounding very optimistic, either. The CIA produced a study this May on a topic so sensitive that even the title is classified. The paper discussed the environment in which jihadists trained at Al Qaeda's camps in Taliban-run Afghanistan, contrasting that against the environment in which Iraq's insurgents are mastering the techniques of urban warfare. For starters, not all new recruits in Afghanistan necessarily hated America before undergoing Al Qaeda indoctrination. In Iraq, on the other hand, hostility toward America is practically the only thing that all insurgents agree on—foreign infiltrators and native recruits alike. And jihadists in Iraq are getting direct, on-the-job training in a real-life insurgency, with hands-on experience in bombing, sniping and all the skills of urban warfare, unlike the essentially artificial training that was given at Al Qaeda's rural Afghan camps. One of the paper's main points is that America's Iraqi troubles will not end with the insurgency. In effect, Iraq is producing a new corps of master terrorists with an incandescent hatred for the United States—the "class of '05 problem," as it's called in the shorthand of CIA analysts. This war is proving to be longer and nastier than almost anyone expected. One day, its results may be felt closer to home.