Derby man who came to Iraq to wage war

Click to follow

The wars being waged by the US and a mosaic of Iraqi communities in northern Iraq have on the surface little to do with Britain. But Kurdish security men recently killed a man called Mala Isa in a shoot-out in his house in Kirkuk. His brother also died in the gun battle.

Mala Isa was a Kurd and also a member of Ansar al Sunna, a particularly dangerous Sunni fundamentalist group. The Kurds say that he was previously a resident of Derby, where he raised money for jihadi causes. They point out that northern Iraq is now filled with people like Mr Isa, who are as willing to blow up Piccadilly as Kirkuk, and know exactly how to do so.

Iraq has become a breeding ground for numerous groups who know the impacta few well-placed explosives can have. "Every shepherd in this country knows how to make a detonator," said one security specialist here.

The idea pushed by the White House and Downing Street, that the manufacture of shaped charges to make bombs more effective can be blamed on Iran, was always unrealistic. Iraq is full of military specialists and unemployed engineers. After the invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein claimed to have raised an army of one million men.

What is new about the war in Iraq since 2003 is the use of suicide bombers on an industrial scale. This has never happened before. The US and Britain have kept very quiet about the origins of these young men prepared to kill themselves, but 45 per cent are reportedly from Saudi Arabia, 15 per cent from Syria and Lebanon and 10 per cent from north Africa.

This fits in with the pattern set by 9/11, when 15 out of the 19 men who hijacked the planes and flew them into the twin towers were Saudi. But because the US and Britain are closely allied to the Saudi kingdom they have never seriously tried to staunch the flow of suicide bombers from there. President Bush and Tony Blair reserved all their criticism for Iran, which is not known to have provided a single suicide bomber.

There is a further reason why the expertise and motivation of suicide bombers is likely to spread further. The war in Iraq has created a diaspora of Iraqis across the world. In Syria and Jordan alone there are 1.8 million refugees. This is the biggest exodus from a single country ever in the Middle East, surpassing even the flight or expulsion of Palestinians in 1948. The world is full of angry Iraqis.

In Iraq itself, US military offensives to eradicate al-Qa'ida or other fundamentalist groups simply disperse them. This has always been the pattern of guerrilla wars.

But al-Qa'ida leaders could not in their most optimistic dreams have expected to have such an ideal base as embattled Iraq.