The U.S. military said on Wednesday it had discovered a list of some 500 al Qaeda militants recruited to fight in Iraq from a range of European, Middle East and north African countries.Spokesman Major-General Kevin Bergner said the information was unearthed in September when a senior al Qaeda in Iraq member, called Muthanna, was killed along with seven other militants near Sinjar in northwest Iraq.
The U.S. military blames fighters recruited outside Iraq for many of the suicide attacks targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces and has previously criticized neighbors such as Syria for not checking the flow of foreign militants across borders into Iraq.
“Muthanna was the emir of Iraq and Syrian border area and he was a key facility of the movement of foreign terrorists once they crossed into Iraq from Syria. He worked closely with Syrian-based al Qaeda foreign terrorist facilitators,” he said.
Bergner told a news conference that the information discovered included 143 biographies of foreign recruits, with personal data, photographs, their recruiters’ names, date of entry into Iraq and the route they took.
“They came from a range of foreign countries that included Libya, Morocco, Syria, Algeria, Oman, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom,” he said.
“In other documents that we found included a formal pledge from foreign terrorists who were committed to suicide operations,” Bergner said.