KUWAIT CITY – Seventy percent of insurgents fighting in Iraq come from Gulf countries via Syria where they are provided with forged passports, an Iraqi intelligence officer alleged in a published report Wednesday.
"They, according to their own confessions, gather in mosques in the said (Gulf) states to travel to Syria using their passports, taking with them phone numbers of individuals waiting for them there," Brig. Gen. Rashid Fleih, the assistant undersecretary for intelligence of Iraq's Interior Ministry, told Kuwait's Al-Qabas daily in an interview.
Fleih did not provide more specific details about the alleged insurgents or which countries they come from. But he said once in Syria, the alleged insurgents are transported to the al-Qaim border area. Individuals provide the men them with new passports after destroying the old ones, Fleih alleged in an interview from Baghdad.
American and Iraqi officials claim Syria does not do enough to prohibit people of different nationalities from crossing its 380-mile border with Iraq to join the ranks of Al Qaeda and other insurgent or terrorist groups there. Damascus denies the allegations and says it is doing all it can to stop them.
The Iraqi intelligence officer did not say where the other 30 percent of insurgents come from. Iraq's other neighbor Iran, is suspected of aiding Iraqi Shiite fighters with training, money and weapons. Tehran denies the accusations.
Once in Iraq, the insurgents are provided with forged Iraqi documentation and "lots of money which they use to buy cars and booby trap them," Fleih told the newspaper.
"In brief, there is clear intelligence cooperation between them," Fleih told the newspaper.