Earlier this afternoon I spoke with a senior Defense Department official who would only talk on background. He has a tough but hopeful forecast for the Iraq constitutional referendum this weekend.
First -- and this isn't news -- he said he expected a lot of violence leading up to, and probably on, the date of the election. Suicide bombers -- mostly Saudis and some from North Africa -- are expected to make their attacks and will likely kill a lot of people.
Second, despite the terrorist activity, he expects the referendum to succeed and be ratified even in the Sunni provinces. This, he said, should put Iraq on track to elect a new government in December. We'll see.
Thinking about the $100,000 al-Q deputy Zawahiri's letter begged from Zarqawi in Iraq, I asked him about the flow of money into Iraq and through it to terrorists elsewhere. Much of the terror funding is coming in by courier. He said we had already reduced substantially the amounts of money coming in (such as from Syrian banks). Some of the Arab states, such as Qatar, are apparently doing pretty well in reducing or stopping the flow of money to terrorists. Other regions, he said, were doing "less well."
Among the "less well" are North and South America. Most troubling, he said, of those doing "less well" is Europe. This gent was very clear: the EU nations are not doing enough to disrupt the operations of terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda. (Perhaps we should ask Jerry Lewis to make a personal appeal to Chirac.)
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