24 October 2005

Should we be asking.... are we safer?

War in Iraq Fueling Global Insecurity, Canadian Spy Chief Warns... The Canadian Press

The head of Canada's spy agency strongly stated Thursday the US-led war in Iraq is making the world a less secure place.

"Diplomacy is not my field, security and intelligence is," CSIS director Jim Judd said at a conference on intelligence studies. "And I think from a security and intelligence perspective, the conflict in Iraq is creating longer-term problems, not just for Iraq but other jurisdictions as well."

The head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said Iraq is becoming a "kind of a test bed for new techniques" for Islamic extremists.

Judd expressed concern about the dangers extremists from North America, Europe and the Middle East pose once they leave Iraq.

"It raises the longer-term question of what do they bode for the future?" Judd said.

Journalist and author Peter Bergen warned that the war in Iraq could spawn a new generation of trained warriors - the "shock troops of the new international jihad" - determined to carry out terrorist attacks against the West.

Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network has proven alluring to wayward extremists partly because western societies have done a poor job of challenging his arguments, terrorism experts told the conference.

Young students who attend the most radical Muslim schools are presented with a violent world view and taught to despise "corrupting western influences" from an early age, said Karin von Hippel of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"We've lost the moral high ground to the wrong people, and we need to get it back," von Hippel said.

Bergen said an attack by Islamic extremists on a major city with a radiological weapon - a conventional bomb that spreads radiation over an area of several blocks - "seems probable" in the future.

The conference, which continues through Saturday, has attracted about 360 security officials, academics and commentators, including well-known American journalist Seymour Hersh.

Hersh, who has reported extensively about the abuse of prisoners in Iraq, said he has become fascinated by what he sees as a neo-conservative coup in the corridors of US power.

"The faster out of Iraq, the better it is," Hersh said.

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