Friday, September 16, 2005
I'm guessing he doesn't offer college loans:|
WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda's top operative in Iraq is drawing growing numbers of Iraqi nationals to his organization, increasing the reach and threat of an insurgent group that has been behind many of the most devastating attacks in the country, U.S. officials and Iraqi government leaders say.
The group, headed by Jordanian-born radical Abu Musab Zarqawi, previously was composed almost exclusively of militants from other Arab nations, and has symbolized the foreign dimension of a stubborn insurgency fighting to oust U.S. forces.
But Zarqawi "is bringing more and more Iraqi fighters into his fold," a U.S. official said, adding that Iraqis accounted for "more than half his organization."
Although Zarqawi is believed to command fewer than 1,000 fighters, the daring and lethal nature of their attacks, coupled with Zarqawi's links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, has made him the most notorious figure in the Iraq insurgency.