Memo to CNN's Brown: Evidence supports Soros's claim that Iraq war is a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda


On September 28, CNN host Aaron Brown accused philanthropist George Soros of making a statement as unfounded as the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign's claim that "Al Qaeda would like to see Mr. Bush defeated" in the November presidential election. Referring to Soros's September 28 speech, Brown claimed that Soros couldn't know that "the war in Iraq had been a great recruiting tool for Osama bin Laden ... any better than they [the Bush campaign] know what they said."

But the fact is, there is evidence that supports Soros's claim that the Iraq war has aided Al Qaeda recruitment, while evidence contradicts the Bush campaign claim that Al Qaeda wants Senator John Kerry to win.

From the September 28 edition of CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown:

BROWN: I think -- it is true that the Bush campaign and its surrogates have said in one way, shape, or form, that Al Qaeda would like to see Mr. Bush defeated. It's also true I think that in your speech today, you [Soros] said the war in Iraq had been a great recruiting tool for Osama bin Laden, which is just the flip side of the same coin. And you can't know that any better than they know what they said.

EVIDENCE: The Iraq war has been a successful recruiting tool for Al Qaeda

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a British-based think tank that focuses on political-military conflict, stated in its 2003-2004 report, The Military Balance, that the "war in Iraq has probably inflamed radical passions among Muslims and thus increased Al Qaeda's recruiting power and morale and, at least marginally, its operating capability," according to an October 15, 2003, Reuters article.

As the Center for American Progress noted, IISS found:

Iraq has become the new magnet for Al Qaeda's recruiting efforts. Up to 1,000 Islamic fighters from foreign nations have infiltrated Iraqi territory, where they are co-operating with Iraqi insurgents. "In counter-terrorism terms, the intervention has arguably focused the energies and resources of al-Qaeda and its followers." Progress against Al Qaeda "is likely to accelerate only with currently elusive political developments that would broadly depress recruitment and motivation."

According to an article in the July/August issue of Mother Jones:

Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of counterterrorism at the CIA under presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said the Iraq war has "accelerated terrorism" by "metastasizing" Al Qaeda. Today, Al Qaeda is more than the narrowly defined group that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001; it is a growing global movement that has been energized by the war in Iraq.

Many newspaper and wire reports further support this claim:

  • The Christian Science Monitor, "Al Qaeda may be rebuilding: US has captured key operatives, yet the war in Iraq may spawn a new army of recruits" May 5, 2003: "There is also evidence that Al Qaeda's remaining leadership believes the war in Iraq will produce a new stream of recruits disenchanted with American actions, perhaps allowing Al Qaeda to create a new front of international jihad."
  • Associated Press, "Iraq War Boosts Militants' Recruiting," April 1, 2003: "Muslim radicals are feeding on anger over the war in Iraq to regroup and revitalize, raising the threat of more anti-U.S. terrorism around the world. ... Analysts say the Iraq war is emboldening militants, who believe the United States is distracted by the fighting. 'Militants know that the United States is fully engaged in Iraq and that has diluted their focus on the war on terror,' said Riffat Hussein, a political analyst."
  • Los Angeles Times: "Al Qaeda Seen as Wider Threat," September 26: "Officials say the terrorist movement has benefited from the rapid spread of radical Islam's message among potential recruits worldwide who are motivated by Al Qaeda's anti- Western doctrine, the continuing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the insurgency in Iraq. The Iraq war, which President Bush says is necessary to build a safer world, has emerged as a new front in the battle against terrorism and a rallying point for a seemingly endless supply of young extremists willing to die in a jihad, or holy war."

EVIDENCE: Al Qaeda does not want Kerry to win

As Media Matters for America has noted, there is a conspicuous lack of evidence to support the claim that terrorists want Kerry to win in November's election. There is, however, evidence suggesting terrorists would prefer four more years of the Bush administration.

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