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Iraq Suicide Bombers Are Mostly Foreigners, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2005 – Most of the people committing suicide bombings in Iraq today are foreigners, not Iraqis, a senior Multinational Force Iraq official told reporters at an April 14 meeting with reporters in Baghdad.

"The sense is that many of the suicide bombers are in fact foreign jihadists, not Iraqis, for the most part," the official said, speaking to reporters on background.

"The ones that we've gotten our hands on are certainly foreigners," he pointed out.

Foreign insurgents operating in Iraq seem to be coming from about 25 countries, the official noted. The majority, he observed, are from Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

However, U.S. military analysts in Iraq "don't see that foreign fighters have become a significant force in the insurgency," the official noted. Out of about 10,000 detainees now being held in Iraq, only "357, 358, something like that" are non-Iraqis.

The official also cited reports that say Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's anti-American militia, the so-called Mahdi Army, is undergoing "some regeneration." However, the official added, Sadr's Baghdad-based group, which had been blamed for several atrocities, had "lost a lot of public support" since the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections.

The official declined to comment on the idea of any possible amnesty program for former insurgents. "That will obviously be a government of Iraq decision," the official said.

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