Agence France Press & UPI – 2005-11-20 07:58:54
3,000 Foreign Fighters in Iraq: Intelligence Study
WASHINGTON (November 18, 2005) — As many as 3,000 foreigners are fighting US and coalition forces in Iraq, a US military analyst reported on Thursday, citing a study drawing on Saudi and other regional intelligence reports.
Algerians constituted the highest percentage of the foreign fighters — about 20 percent — followed by Syrians, Yemenis, Sudanese, Egyptians, and Saudis, said Anthony Cordesman in a report on the findings.
“If there are anything like 3,000 foreign fighters in Iraq, this poses a serious threat,” Cordesman said.
Cordesman, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said US sources have put the number of the foreign fighters under Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi at only about 1,000 and believe the number has increased since the January 30 elections.
“In any case, the exact numbers are largely irrelevant. All it takes is enough volunteers to continue to support suicide attacks and violent bombings, and to seek to drive Iraqi Sunnis towards a major and intense civil war,” Cordesman wrote.
They also pose a threat because “many are likely to survive and be the source of violence and extremism in other countries,” he said.
Former Serb Red Berets in Iraq
United Press International
BAGHDAD, Nov. 7 (UPI) — Former Serbian “Red Berets” elites forces are now being employed as private security personnel in Baghdad.
About 30 former members of the Jedinica za Specijalne Operacije Special Operations Unit, better known as the JSO or Red Berets, have been working for private security contractors in Iraq for $8,000 a month.
Vecernje Novosti daily said the men were recruited through a security agency in Sarajevo in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina. A former JSO member based in Belgrade, who currently works for the Serbian National Security Council, recruited the men.
In March 2003, the Serbian government disbanded the Red Berets after occupying their headquarters in Vojvodina province. The Red Berets were former President Slobodan Milosevic’s Ministry of the Interior elite troops.
The Serbians are providing security for oil fields, government offices and foreign companies. They guard German and English engineers working in Iraq, according Vecernje Novosti.
The Serbians join an increasing number of foreign former military personnel supplementing coalition forces in Iraq. Some media estimates put the number of private security personnel as high as 40,000.
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