Was Al Qaeda’s Push in Iraq Really an Intel Failure?

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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There was certainly no intelligence failure on the part of the Iraqi government. Iraq’s weapons shopping list suddenly began getting really big. Their government was clearly preparing for something.

Iraq’s explanation it expected spillover from the fighting in Syria was dismissed by many. Experts assumed that Iraq couldn’t really be shopping for heavy firepower because it was worried about Al Qaeda. The idea that it needed air power to take on a terrorist group was seen as laughable. The assumption was that Iraq was going to involve itself in external conflicts.

As we’ve now seen, the Iraqis were telling the truth. About that at any rate.

Iraq’s shopping list alone should have set off a lot of alarm bells in our intelligence services. It’s possible that some wrong conclusions were reached, but it’s even more likely that no one at the top wanted to hear about a flare up in Iraq.

Certainly no one in Obama Inc. was interested.

There are two kinds of intelligence failures. One is where the information isn’t available or the right conclusions aren’t reached. The other is where both of those things happen but no one wants to hear it.

I suspect Al Qaeda’s big push in Iraq was in the second category.

Part of the reason for that may be the question of what is really behind ISIS. Al Qaeda in Iraq has always been nasty and ruthless, but since the Syrian Civil War it suddenly has a lot more money and an international network. It’s acquired a lot more sophistication and is capable of going up against conventional armies and winning.

Some of that may be natural, but it’s more likely that there is at least one country behind it, maybe more. And it’s very likely that those countries are officially our allies.

If we take too close a look at ISIS, the arrow will point to where no one in power wants it to point.

This isn’t a case of “We don’t know.” It’s a case of “We don’t want to know.”

  • Pete

    How will hiernonymous and other naysayers treat this? After all you provided no links and thus no substantiation besides past history, our lying eyes and recent news reports.

    “Obama’s recent remarks showed that the White House lacks serious will for confronting terrorism in Iraq and the region,”

    -Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian

    Yes …. I am shaking my head but not on the message …. I am shaking my head on knowing who is the messenger.” – From War News Update

    http://www.voanews.com/content/reu-iran-says-obama-remarks-show-us-not-serious-in-fighting-terrorism/1941957.html

    http://warnewsupdates.blogspot.com/2014/06/irans-deputy-foreign-minister-obama-not.html

  • Texas Patriot

    The response of Western Civilization to the phenomenon of Islamic jihad has been an “intelligence failure” from day one, and nowhere was that more obvious than in President Bush’s assurances to the world after 9/11:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_ZoroJdVnA

    • Charles119

      GWB was trying to fool us or he was fooled too.
      Giving Islam is Peace speeches post GWB, is an attempt to “Fool me twice”
      When a scammer tries to fool you a second time, they should expect to get angrily rebuffed.
      A 3rd time and …

      • Texas Patriot

        As Daniel suggests, is it really just ignorance, if it’s intentional?

  • Gee

    This was so predictable that I said it would happen in 1979. Iraq is not a sustainable country. Never has been.

    Even the Ottoman Empire had 3 different provinces because Kurds, Sunnis and Shi’ties could not live together.

  • SoCalMike

    Exactly.
    The was totally predictable.
    Those who predicted this were smeared and besmirched in a way those who ignored the obvious and smeared us will never be smeared or even criticized.
    Our CIA and assorted intelligence services are bureaucratic faculty lounges with book worms on desks.
    They should be writing dime store novels rather than executing and determining US foreign policy. I’d rather give a loaded gun to a baby.