Scott Peterson, a reporter and photographer for the Science Monitor, was on Fresh Air today discussing his reporting in the Middle East.
Peterson’s most interesting information is that apparently there is a splinter group of Iraqi Kurds called Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq who have adopted a militant Islamic position and have made contact with Al Queda. Even more interesting is that Peterson reports that this group is being funded and supported in part by Saddam himself, in an effort to counterbalance the main Kurdish opposion groups and generally destablize the north. Of the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan — the group from which Ansar al-Islam evolved — he said the following:
“I did speak to sources in Northern Iraq during my recent visit in which they described how Al Qaeda members had worked very hard to try and recruit some people from this organization and try and bring them onto there ideological wavelength. They apparently were successful in doing that. And also, I spoke to people too who described that there had been a lot of support for this group from Saddam Hussein in Baghdad: his purpose was to find any means possible to help destabilize the situation in Northern Iraq, and he felt that this was a worthwhile tool for that.”
I unfortunately can’t seem to locate any particular piece on the CSM website corresponding to this story, so you’ll just have to listen to the RealAudio — the discussion of the Kurds is at the very beginning of the interview. If anyone finds a link, send it to me.