WASHINGTON (AFP) – A new classified US intelligence report has concluded that the war in Iraq has helped spawn a new wave of Islamic radicalism and made the overall terrorist threat worse, leading US newspapers have reported.
The findings contained in the National Intelligence Estimate appear to be in stark contradiction with recent claims by President George W. Bush and other top administration officials that victory in Iraq is the key to winning the global war on terror.
Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,” the intelligence estimate is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by US intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began and represents a consensus view of the 16 different spy services inside the government, The New York Times said citing unnamed officials who have read the report.
Completed in April, the report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” The Times quotes one of the officials as saying.
The newspaper said the report avoids specific judgements about the likelihood that terrorists would once against stage strikes on US soil, but concludes the overall terror threat has increased since the September 11, 2001, attacks.
In a series of recent speeches to mark the fifth anniversary of the attacks, Bush has outlined successes in the US war on terror, and argued that Iraq was key to defeating terrorists around the world.
Analysts began working on the estimate in 2004, but it was not finalized until this year, The Times said.
Part of the reason was that some government officials were unhappy with the structure and focus of earlier versions of the document, according to the report.
The newspaper said that previous drafts described actions by the US government that were determined to have stoked the jihadist movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.
It is unclear whether the final draft of the intelligence estimate criticizes specific government policies, The Times pointed out, but intelligence officials involved in preparing the document said its conclusions were not softened or massaged for political purposes.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post noted that although intelligence officials agree that the United States has seriously damaged Al-Qaeda and disrupted its ability to plan and direct major operations, radical Islamic networks have spread and decentralized.
Many of the new cells, the estimate concludes, have no connection to any central structure and arose independently, The Post said.
They communicate only among themselves and derive their inspiration, ideology and tactics from the more than 5,000 radical Islamic websites, according to The Post report.
They spread the message that the Iraq war is a Western attempt to conquer Islam by first occupying Iraq and establishing a permanent presence in the Middle East.
The intelligence estimate does not offer policy prescriptions, The Post said.