Camp Bucca, a detention facility built and maintained by the U.S. Army in Iraq between 2003 and 2009, was a major recruiting ground for al-Qaeda, a senior Iraqi anti-terror official told Al Arabiya in an interview aired on Friday.
Brigadier General Maher Najm Abdul Hussein, head of the anti-terror and organized crime in Iraq, said more than 90 percent of al-Qaeda members now operating in the country were once inmates at Camp Bucca.
General Abdul Hussein said the detention facility was a “mistake” committed by the U.S. Amy in Iraq, describing the prison as an “incubator” that allowed the terror network to recruit more members.
He said the security crackdown on al-Qaeda has pushed the group to rely less on Iraqi recruits, pointing out that a recent al-Qaeda suicide bomber was from Libya.
The group is using previous desert shelters built up by Saddam Hussein’s army as shelters and bases from which it launches attacks in various areas of Iraq, General Abdul Hussein said.
The anti-terror chief said al-Qaeda is also relying on border areas with Turkey and Syria for financial and weapons support.
Suicide attacks, car bombings and other violence have killed more than 200 people since the Islamic holy month of daytime fasting and charity began last week, according to an Associated Press count.
The violence is an extension of a surge of attacks that has roiled Iraq for months, reviving fears of a return to the widespread sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.