Thursday, October 20, 2005

Dane among foreign fighters captured in Iraq

The question of whether Danes are among the foreign fighters captured in Iraq gets murkier and murkier. On the 10th, Iraq foreign minister Bayan Jabr was qoted as saying that one man with a Danish passport was among the foreign fighters detained by Coalition forces. Danish authorities were somewhat perplexed since they hadnt been oriented, and today the Danish embassy in Baghdad was happy to report that the whole story was due to mis-reporting by the journalist interviewing Jabr.

Now another sources comes forward to bring the story back to life again, though. From Reuters:
"Terrorists and foreign fighters" were responsible for some of the worst insurgent attacks, such as suicide car bombings, Lynch said. But he said U.S.-led forces had foiled several attacks by arresting or killing many of them in recent months.

He told a news briefing 376 foreign fighters had been captured this year, of whom 311 were detained since the start of April. No comparable figures for the total number of guerrilla suspects captured were available, although some 12,000 are currently held in jail, most of those Iraqis.

The countries of origin most represented were Egypt (78), Syria (66), Sudan (41) and Saudi Arabia (32). The list included several other Middle Eastern countries and a number of European states such as France (1) and Denmark (1) as well as two Indians and an American.

That is the one who got caught, but there have been others who were killed, and some have already returned after fighting in Iraq. The most notorious of the ones killed was Mustapha Darwich Ramadan (hat tim: Filtrat):

When robbers stole more than $300,000 from an armored car here in 1997, investigators were taken aback by the size and brazenness of the heist. But they really became alarmed when they discovered that one of the culprits had been under surveillance as a suspected Islamic extremist.

That man, Mustapha Darwich Ramadan, was arrested shortly before he planned to flee Copenhagen on a flight to Amman, Jordan, police said. He was convicted of robbery and served 3 1/2 years in prison. After his release in June 2001, Copenhagen police said, he struck again, robbing a money-transfer store of about $15,000. This time, he escaped to either Jordan or Lebanon, police said.

Since then, according to European intelligence officials, Ramadan has surfaced in Iraq as a leader of Ansar al-Islam, a radical group that U.S. officials say has carried out at least 40 suicide bombings and other attacks resulting in more than 1,000 deaths in the war-ravaged country.
Officials say Ansar also operates an extensive underground network that recruits young Muslims across Europe to join the insurgency in Iraq. Intelligence estimates of the numbers sent from Europe by Ansar and other groups vary from 100 to more than 3,000, but there is general agreement that the flow is increasing. ...

Since moving to Iraq, Ramadan has operated under the name Abu Mohammed Lubnani, or father of Mohammed the Lebanese, European intelligence officials believe. A Web site run by Islamic radicals reported recently that he had been killed, but the claim has drawn skepticism here on grounds it may be disinformation.

Lubnani, a 40-year-old former Lebanese military officer, developed contacts across Europe during his 14-year stay in Denmark. His story is emblematic of how Ansar, once a small Kurdish group focused solely on local conflicts in northern Iraq, has been able to broaden its mission, casting itself as an international force in Islamic radicalism and expanding into Europe.

Lubnani was said to have been killed by a US Apache-helicopter in Fallujah with his 15-year-old son, whom he had brought along with him to wage Jihad.



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