The escape by as many as 600 terrorists from Abu Ghraib prison is worrying proof of a resurgent al-Qaeda in Iraq, which experts from the Henry Jackson Society have been warning of since the ill-advised early departure of American troops from the country following the toppling of Saddam Hussein.
It has been reported today that the escapees, many of them convicted senior members of al Qaeda, were freed in a coordinated raid on the prison and the majority are now at large in Iraq, which remains riven by sectarianism and is blighted by a large-scale attack by terrorist militants at least once every four to six weeks.
The Henry Jackson Society (HJS) has warned of a resurgent Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) for several years. HJS experts argue governments in the West are seemingly unconcerned by the growing strength of al Qaeda in the region, as Sunni Muslim militants gain momentum in their insurgency against the Shi’ite-led government that came to power after the US invasion.
Terrorism analyst and HJS research fellow Robin Simcox said: “The West is suffering from Iraq fatigue, and the last thing the US wants is to admit is strategic failure by acknowledging the resurgence of Islamic terrorism Iraq.
“But as this prison break shows, there is a very real jihadist threat re-emerging in Iraq. The last time we in the West ignored such a threat, it was from Afghanistan.
“The withdrawal of American troops from Iraq means the US can only stand by while sectarian warfare rises and the ISI explicitly threatens the US, and while Iran secures ever greater influence in the region.”