Of the few foreign fighters in Iraq, most come from two allies

Interesting story in 22 Nov 07 New York Times: Foreign Fighters in Iraq Are Tied to Allies of U.S.

Saudi Arabia and Libya, both considered allies by the United States in its fight against terrorism, were the source of about 60 percent of the foreign fighters who came to Iraq in the past year to serve as suicide bombers or to facilitate other attacks, according to senior American military officials.

The data come largely from a trove of documents and computers discovered in September, when American forces raided a tent camp in the desert near Sinjar, close to the Syrian border. …

The most significant discovery was a collection of biographical sketches that listed hometowns and other details for more than 700 fighters brought into Iraq since August 2006.

…The documents indicate that each foreigner brought about $1,000 with him, used mostly to finance operations of the smuggling cell. Saudis brought more money per person than fighters from other nations, the American officials said.

…According to the rosters found in the raid, the third-largest source of foreign fighters was Yemen, with 68. There were 64 from Algeria, 50 from Morocco, 38 from Tunisia, 14 from Jordan, 6 from Turkey and 2 from Egypt.

Two quick (and not the most important) thoughts. First, this suggests you can’t pull our people out of allied lands to go elsewhere just because they’re allies ("transformation"=bad). Although in at least one source country, you can question the depth of the support for the U.S. vice internal control.

Second, five terabytes of data? Wait, I didn’t share that part yet:

In addition to $18,000 in cash and assorted weapons, troops found five terabytes of data that included detailed questionnaires filled out by incoming fighters. Background information on more than 900 fighters was found, or about 750 after eliminating duplicates and questionnaires that were mostly incomplete.

Typo or these guys were running a small data center. Were the drives striped with a hot spare? More importantly, did they have an offsite backup? Engineering degrees at work…