December 08, 2004

FRENCH TROOPS IN IRAQ

Who exactly are the out-of-towners assisting local insurgents in their quest to deny Iraq democracy? NBC investigates:

During the past two months, NBC News scoured the Internet, cross-referencing names, tracking down biographical information and, in some cases, making direct contact with family members.

All told, NBC News found information on 31 individuals, including:

One man from a wealthy family in Saudi Arabia
The reigning Kung Fu champion of Jordan
A former police officer from Kuwait
An al-Qaida operative from Turkey

NBC News terror analyst Evan Kohlmann says their backgrounds are diverse some successful, others young and unemployed and in at least three cases, they came from France.

Colour me shocked.

Posted by Tim Blair at December 8, 2004 12:59 AM
Comments

Wow, they found names in news articles, Googled them, decided whatever hits they found must be the same person -- and, in a few cases, bothered to actually find out?

Verily, bloggers can't possibly compete with such professional journalism and their vast resources!

Posted by: Otter at December 8, 2004 at 01:09 AM

Wow. They found three Frenchmen who'd fight somebody who's shooting back? I guess all that German and American DNA we left behind stiffened a couple of spines...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at December 8, 2004 at 01:26 AM

Still I wish that some news organization or blogger would investigate how many of the ~1200 Islamists killed in Fallujah were in fact foreigners. The silence from the Pentagon on this important topic seems to tell us that the dead were almost all home-grown Sunni religous radicals. Also, a few months ago I assumed that all suicide bombers in Iraq were foreigners, I am now beginning to think that it's not true. Anybody out there have different opinions?

Posted by: Pat G at December 8, 2004 at 01:30 AM

Richard, they were kicked out of the French Army for being "reckless" with their weapons. We call that discharging. Heh.

Pat, who cares where they came from? They're dead now, and rightfully so.

Posted by: Easycure at December 8, 2004 at 01:35 AM

When it was realized the US presence in Iraq was acting like a magnet and attracting Islamist nutz from practically all over the world to 'defend Muslims against the Great Satan' in Iraq, our press seemed to be alarmed. Actually not alarmed, probably eagerly anticipating that Vietnam-like quagmire they have been warning us about.

I'm glad to have the Islamists go to Iraq and engage our soldiers. Our soldiers are trained to fight our enemies. That's their job. Better those nutz take on our soldiers in Iraq than come to our cities and blow up our civilians. If we can get enough of the Islamists all in one place and reduce their numbers, the better off everyone will be.

Islamists are equal opportunity nutz .. they murder and terrorize Muslims as well as non-Muslims. (Recall what they did to the Afghan Muslims.)

I can't think of one group that wouldn't benefit if we had a way to get rid of a substantial number of Islamists. If many feel they should go to Iraq, I hope they do. Of course, with all the Iraqis have suffered it would be better if we could pick a different place.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at December 8, 2004 at 01:47 AM

>seems to tell us that the dead were almost all
>home-grown Sunni religous radicals.

Saddam had a lot of helpers in the old days and none of them will ever have a chance of getting a job. I would think that both the public and the private sector would make background checks. There must be an awful lot of people in Iraq that have nothing to lose and are therefore likely to become terrorists.

Like the Hamas terrorists: if the Palis ever made peace with Israel, they would be unemployable.

Posted by: jorgen at December 8, 2004 at 01:48 AM

Jorgen, I disagree with you that the insurgency consists mostly of Sunni dead-enders. I've read many of the first-hand accounts of the house-to-house fighting in Fallujah. Several times when U.S. Army Infantry and U.S. Marines had the Islamists surrounded, Iraqi translators working for us would demand that the Islamists surrender. They rarely did and would answer that they would never surrender to infidels. The almost daily suicide bombings in Iraq also points to the conclusion that what drives the Iraqi Sunni Islamists is not the future lack of job opportunities under a Shiite-dominated government, but extreme religious conviction.

Posted by: Pat G at December 8, 2004 at 02:09 AM

Pat G,

Good point and certainly 99% of the suicide bombers must be fanaticals.

I would also like to see how may come from other countries.

Posted by: jorgen at December 8, 2004 at 02:26 AM

"Omar sacrificed his kids, his wife, his youth to be a martyr," says his mother. "I'm very proud of him."

Indeed Omar's a real hero

Posted by: Giles at December 8, 2004 at 02:34 AM

Chris Josephson,

Better those nutz take on our soldiers in Iraq than come to our cities and blow up our civilians. If we can get enough of the Islamists all in one place and reduce their numbers, the better off everyone will be.

Hence, the Iraq War's unofficial title: Operation Flypaper.

Posted by: Spiny Norman at December 8, 2004 at 02:56 AM


Uh-oh, they come from France?

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/76/76kconeheads.phtml

Posted by: Andrew at December 8, 2004 at 03:07 AM

I think the article has the wrong perspective. The article states:

...the mere chance to kill Americans.

When it should have said:

...the mere chance to be killed by Americans.

Posted by: Keith at December 8, 2004 at 04:02 AM

Typical smart thinking - "We want to destroy America, so let's go to where all their soldiers are!"

Take a number, guys, there's plenty of bullets to go around.

Posted by: Nightfly at December 8, 2004 at 05:00 AM

Although I fervently hope that Iraq acts like a vacuum and sucks in all the international Islamic crazies to provide some target practice for U.S. troops, I must remind everyone that there is little proof that this is occurring. I'm guessing, but from what I can gather, probably less than 5% of the ~1200 Islamists stiffs now stinking up Fallujah are foreign.

Posted by: Pat G. at December 8, 2004 at 05:22 AM

So NBS News scoured the internet for two months to come up with this. Two minutes of thinking would have told them that there was something very wrong with the Oil For Food Program at the UN!!! Agendas anyone?

Posted by: YoJimbo at December 8, 2004 at 06:15 AM

if the id's of the suicide bombers and terrorists are known then secret covert operations should be carried out to exterminate their families.

this would send a good message to all potential terrorists.

Posted by: vinnyboombutts at December 8, 2004 at 06:28 AM

Of course there were Frenchmen there, in WWII more French died fighting for Germany than against it.

Posted by: Crusader at December 8, 2004 at 07:12 AM

Reading over my shoulder, my French girlfriend immediately reacted to this post - though we are pretty sure that we remember reading that some of the Fallujah fighters were also French before NBC got onto it.

Anyway, in France the distinction is always made between French-born-to-French-parents citizens and possibly-French-born-but-always-born-to-North-African\Middle-Eastern-parents-fanatical-about-Islam citizens. Such a distinction is common in newspapers, TV news and journals in France.

At a guess, we would say that the French citizens fighting in Iraq are more than likely from the second group. To type them further, they would probably have gained French citizenship via their birth in France to parents that migrated in the 1950s and 1960s while France still had open borders to their Mahgreb colonies. They might be French on paper but are not seen as French by the 'real' French.

Searching for a parallel in Australia, the best we could come up with was David Hicks being found fighting for terrorists in Afghanistan (Walker for the Amercians, perhaps?). Just because one bad apple is floating around (or 3, in the case of France according to NBC) doesn't mean the whole country is evil. The Froggy government might have gone soft on terror - a fact recognised by my better half nd just about all the French people we know here in Adelaide - but not all the people fel the same way: there just happens to be a couple of nutbags in every nation.

Posted by: Dylan at December 8, 2004 at 09:19 AM

Pat G. I doubt that the 5% assumption is valid. Anecdotally (meaning I ain't researched it, just working from memory), the news feeds seem full of articles about Saudi Arabian (in particular), Syrian, and Jordanian militants entering Iraq in numbers. Frequent mentions of many friends and or family members that have gone before, etc. I would bet on closer to 50% foreign.

Better would be an official report of course.

Posted by: jonathan at December 8, 2004 at 10:28 AM

If today's Marines are anything like those of WWII, they regard opponents who would rather suicide than surrender as, well... a great timesaver.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at December 8, 2004 at 10:45 AM

Oh my God. We must withdraw before it's too late. They have the power of kung fu.

Posted by: Bryan C at December 8, 2004 at 11:21 AM

"The reigning Kung Fu champion of Jordan"

His kung fu was... inferior.

Posted by: dorkafork at December 8, 2004 at 01:00 PM

"Ha! Seven-Star Punch!"

"Ha! M4 carbine!"

"Er... didn't I see you at the Boxer Rebellion?"

Posted by: richard mcenroe at December 8, 2004 at 01:21 PM

Anyway, in France the distinction is always made between French-born-to-French-parents citizens and possibly-French-born-but-always-born-to-North-African\Middle-Eastern-parents-fanatical-about-Islam citizens. Such a distinction is common in newspapers, TV news and journals in France. (...) They might be French on paper but are not seen as French by the 'real' French.

Hooray for the inclusive nature of Old Europe's multiculturalism.

Posted by: PW at December 8, 2004 at 02:43 PM

Kung fu is no match for Rum fu.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at December 8, 2004 at 04:11 PM

An Iranian acquaintenance told me that he had faced far greater hassle/discrimination in getting into night-clubs in nice, cuddly France than he had ever faced in nasty, fascist North America

Posted by: Son of a Pig and a Monkey at December 9, 2004 at 05:11 AM

When a lefty friend (college, late '60s) asked my Marine Raider father about "prisoners of war" on Iwo Jima, my father said, "They didn't surrender and we didn't take any prisoners. We were attacked by Japanese in hospital beds when we entered to secure the building. When we got to Iwo, there were about 25,000 Jap soldiers on it. When we got to the north end of the island, there were about 25,000 dead Jap soldiers on it." My friend was aghast. My dad thought the average Japanese soldier was misguided, but a helluva of a fighter. (He didn't care much for the French or the situation found on the Pacific Islands they had been in charge of.)

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at December 9, 2004 at 09:36 AM