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The Iraq War: Planting the Seeds of Al Qaeda’s Second Generation

The American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq has provided Al Qaeda with a new lease on life, a second generation of recruits and fighters, and a powerful outlet to expand its ideological outreach activities to Muslims worldwide. Statements by Al Qaeda top chiefs, including bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, and Seif al-Adl, portray the unfolding confrontation in Iraq as a "golden and unique opportunity" for the global jihad movement to engage and defeat the United States and spread the conflict into neighboring Arab states in Syria, Lebanon and the Palestine-Israeli theater. The global war is not going well for bin Laden, and Iraq enabled him to convince his jihadist followers that Al Qaeda is still alive and kicking despite suffering crippling operational setbacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and elsewhere.