Illegal Activities Funding Insurgents in Iraq

A Shiite Iraqi al-Mahdi army militiaman i i

A Shiite Iraqi al-Mahdi army militiaman, affiliated to Shiite firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, stands guard in a cemetery in the holy city of Najaf, in central Iraq, Nov. 26, 2006. Qassem Zein/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Qassem Zein/AFP/Getty Images
A Shiite Iraqi al-Mahdi army militiaman

A Shiite Iraqi al-Mahdi army militiaman, affiliated to Shiite firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, stands guard in a cemetery in the holy city of Najaf, in central Iraq, Nov. 26, 2006.

Qassem Zein/AFP/Getty Images

Insurgent groups in Iraq are now largely self-supporting, according to a U.S. government report obtained by The New York Times. The report estimates that insurgents raise $70-$200 million a year from kidnappings, oil smuggling and other illegal activities within Iraq.

Debbie Elliott discusses the leaked report with New York Times reporter John Burns in Baghdad.

Originally, Burns says, the insurgency was sustained by money that was seized by Saddam Hussein and his associates as the Iraqi government collapsed during the U.S. invasion. But as that money dried up, insurgents turned to criminal activities inside Iraq to fund their actions. The most important source of funding now comes from the oil industry — theft of crude oil and processed fuels, Burns says.

"So what you have is that the very government that is supposed to be a partner for the United States in fighting the insurgency is itself involved in channeling what the report says may be up to $100 million a year to the insurgency that is seeking to topple that government," Burns says.

The study was assembled by an interagency working group organized by the National Security Council. Its participants included the CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency and State Department. Burns says government sources leaked the paper to widen understanding within the United States about the challenges that America faces in Iraq.

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