WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- The Jordanian behind so much Iraqi violence is positioned to become a global terrorist eclipsing Osama bin Laden, a French terrorism expert says.
Abu Musab al Zarqawi is widely considered a lesser figure in al-Qaida, and one periodically out of favor with bin Laden. However, Alexis Debat, an expert who has reviewed extensive international intelligence documents, said Thursday that Zarqawi is using Iraq to establish a base for a global network -- a new incarnation of al-Qaida that will be even more difficult to fight.
"Whoever controls the base controls the organization. The base is in Iraq. It used to be in Afghanistan," he said. "It is a new starting point for a new organization."
Jihadists travel to Iraq to get trained in the art of urban terrorism -- a curriculum heavy on coordinating multiple remotely detonated car-bomb attacks. Some travel back out. They are the network that gives Zarqawi his global reach, and they are connected by their training and battles in Iraq.
"By opening a new front in the global jihad, which serves as the lifeline of al-Qaida's ideological staying power, the Iraq war ... has provided the organization with a much needed replacement for its Afghan base," Debat writes in the Summer 2005 issues of "The National Interest."