Saturday, September 22, 2007

Is Al Qaeda Iraq a Threat to Sweden?

Walid Phares

The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq recently offered a bounty encouraging the assassination of a Swedish cartoonist and his editor for having published drawings deemed insulting to the religion of Islam Omar al Baghdadi, in an audio statement said Lars Vilks, who "dared insult the Prophet", should be killed for a reward of $100,000 and, if "slaughtered like a lamb", the killer will receive another $50,000. In addition, he offered a Jihadi financial reward of $50,000 for the murder of Ulf Johansson, the editor of Nerikes Allehanda, the Swedish paper that printed Vilks' cartoon on August 19.

In the context of Global Jihadism, this second cartoon drama -- after last year's Danish cartoon crisis - displays a dimension very relevant to the ongoing War on Terror. Indeed, the identity of the threat issuer is important, because it is al Qaeda in Iraq. This development should send a significant message into the American and international debates about that conflict, especially as a significant faction within the US Congress, some of whom claim that Iraq is fighting only a civil war, is pressing for a rapid withdrawal of US troops.

What the "Jihad bounty" tells us loud and clear is this: al Qaeda's operation in Iraq is not, nor will it be, "only" about an American, Western or international presence. As the AQI press release shows, there is clear evidence that those who are beheading, killing, maiming, kidnapping and blowing up people and things in the Sunni Triangle and in the rest of Iraq have an agenda of international violence.
Iraq is merely their launching pad.

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