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Cause and Effect
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This CBS story headlines "Report: Iraq War Made Terror 'Worse'". Okay.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq has heightened the threat of terrorism and increased the number of terrorist groups, according to a new report compiled by U.S. intelligence agencies since the Iraq war started.

The report, the classified National Intelligence Estimate, "says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," one American intelligence official told The New York Times.

Completed in April, the intelligence estimate reflects the views of 16 different spy agencies within the U.S. government. Instead of weakening Islamic radicalism, the report titled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States," says the jihad ideology has spread worldwide since the Iraq war.

The report ends by saying the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of al Qaeda operatives and related groups and now includes a class of "self-generating" cells inspired by al Qaeda’s leadership, yet has no direct connection with Osama bin Laden or his top officers, The New York Times reported.

This is the whole story, except for a "More Developments" section in which they talk about violence in Iraq. I'd like a little more info here.

How exactly do they link the rise in jihadism to the war in Iraq? Was the threat of terrorism declining between 9/11 and 2003, when we invaded Iraq? We invaded Afghanistan as well...did that contribute at all to this? Is it possible that the rise in jihadism is linked to 9/11 as a motivating event, moreso than the Iraq war?

This is a short news story, to be sure, but it doesn't even try to answer any of these questions, and I'd be interested to see if the report even does. How exactly do you assign credit for events as motivating factors?

If I saw a graph where worldwide terrorism organization were going down after 9/11, but then there was a spike in 2003, that might be somewhat convincing. Something makes me think that the number of al Qaeda members wasn't declining after 9/11 though. And unless you overhear some young Muslim chatting in a coffee shop that he's gonna go join al Qaeda just because of what the infidels are doing in Iraq, how the hell do you attribute that as his motive?

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