KEY JUDGMENTS….Is the Iraq war fueling terrorism? Here are the excerpts from the “key judgments” section of the newly declassified National Intelligence Estimate that address the issue:

We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

  • The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

  • ….Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement:….(2) the Iraq “jihad;”….

Al-Qa?ida, now merged with Abu Mus?ab al-Zarqawi?s network, is exploiting the situation in Iraq to attract new recruits and donors and to maintain its leadership role.

….We judge that most jihadist groups ? both well-known and newly formed ? will use improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks focused primarily on soft targets to implement their asymmetric warfare strategy, and that they will attempt to conduct sustained terrorist attacks in urban environments. Fighters with experience in Iraq are a potential source of leadership for jihadists pursuing these tactics.

In one sense, this answers the questions about what exactly the intelligence community meant by its assertion that the war was “fueling terrorism.” However, because only the NIE’s key judgments were declassified, these are still nothing but assertions. Without seeing the context, analysis, and dissenting opinions that shaped them, there’s nothing to assess. You either accept the intelligence community’s expertise or you don’t.

With appropriate redactions, the entire NIE should be released. Then we can all see what this is based on.

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