US: Iraqi Fighters Extort, Kidnap To Raise Funds

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

It appears Al-Qaida-in-Iraq is increasingly turning to extortion and kidnapping to finance its operations.

The shift in strategy is occurring as cash carried in by the group's dwindling foreign fighters network is drying up, according to U.S. intelligence and captured documents.

The smuggling network that funnels foreign fighters and weapons into Iraq has been under increasing pressure in the past year. It's squeezed from three sides: by Iraqi tribes who are making it increasingly difficult for terrorist networks to operate and hide among them; by more effective U.S. and Iraqi military operations; and by governments in the region -- such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco -- that are cracking down on al-Qaida and the smuggling networks that feed the insurgency.

Al-Qaida-in-Iraq's funding scheme could drive an even deeper wedge between the terrorist organization and the Iraqi tribes and others who once joined forces against the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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