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Last Updated: Friday, 14 January, 2005, 12:17 GMT
Iraq 'could become terror haven'
Militant in Iraq
The report warns that veteran Iraqi militants may spread their methods
Iraq could become a breeding ground for terrorists, with survivors taking their experience to use around the world, a new US intelligence report warns.

Veterans of jihad in Iraq could eventually replace the al-Qaeda hierarchy, the CIA's National Intelligence Council says.

The report, Mapping the Global Future, warns of "a new class of terrorists".

It envisages how various scenarios for world security might develop over the next 15 years.

One strand examines how robust economic growth might see Asian nations become more powerful - another how the US would remain the solitary superpower dealing with various lower-level threats.

Weak government, lagging economies, religious extremism and youth bulges... have a potential to create a perfect storm
David Gordon
NIC Vice Chairman

But others portend a greater threat from terrorism, and an Orwellian response to crime.

The report says: "Iraq and other possible conflicts in the future could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are 'professionalised' and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself."

US President George W Bush has described the war in Iraq as part of the "war on terror".

But the report suggests that terrorists could thrive in Iraq, and go on to "supersede" those who earned their stripes in training camps in Afghanistan.

"The al-Qaeda membership that was distinguished by having trained in Afghanistan will gradually dissipate, to be replaced in part by the dispersion of the experienced survivors of the conflict in Iraq," it says.

Inequality to grow

The report's writers consulted more than 1,000 experts on five continents before drawing their conclusions.

They believe economic growth around the world will not benefit everyone, with the gap between the "haves" and "have-nots" likely to widen.

"The benefits of globalisation will not be global," said National Intelligence Council (NIC) Vice Chairman David Gordon.

"In countries where weak government, lagging economies, religious extremism and youth bulges come together, they have a potential to create a perfect storm... for internal conflict and potentially for international terrorism," he warned.


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