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The great al-Qaeda prison break

Major problems with this story


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Why it doesn't add up


We posted this video within hours of the news first breaking because we felt it was so important.

In a coordinated attack, hundreds of prisoners escaped from prisons in Iraq in Taji and Abu Ghraib. According to the Reuters report: "Most of them were senior members of al-Qaeda who had been sentenced to death."

Reuters went on to say that according to an unnamed security official: "It's obviously a terrorist attack carried out by al-Qaeda to free convicted terrorists with al-Qaeda"

As is often the case when an unnamed security official says something is "obvious" there are major problems with this story.

First, this was a full-fledged military operation. In spite of all the violence in Iraq there have been precious few of these. Most combat deaths have occurred from roadside bombings, ambushes, snipers and other "hit and run" tactics. Yet, now suddenly we have an organized force that is capable of raiding a prison, mounting a sustained attack on the military and, for a while at least, prevailing long enough to let hundreds of prisoners escape.

Second, al-Qaeda, while a factor in Iraq, is a minor player and Iraq is not and has never been a major theater of operations for them. The old regime under Saddam Hussein loathed Osama bin Laden and actually offered to help the US find and capture him, so the idea that al-Qaeda has been warmly welcomed in Iraq even after the US invasion is a stretch at best.

Third, in spite of endless news reports to the contrary, there just aren't that many al-Qaeda fighters in the world. The number is routinely inflated by declaring unrelated groups al-Qaeda "affiliates" but that doesn't change the basic math. In fact, as reported by the Wall Street Journal September 9, 2011, the total number of active al-Qaeda fighters is estimated by some security experts to be between 200 and 1,000 or less WORLDWIDE.

So how could there be "hundreds" of them in just one Iraqi prison, especially when Iraq has never been a major theater of operation for them? So who were prisoners who escaped?

Who mounted the attacks on the two prisons? Andy why was the first thing that hit the press a suspect statement from an unnamed source?

We don't have answers, but as usual we sure have a lot of questions. If we find additional sources on this story that go beyond the surface we will let you know.

- Brasscheck

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