Iraq is a huge bake sale benefiting al-Qaida.

A major CIA effort launched last year to hunt down Osama bin Laden has produced no significant leads, but has helped track an alarming increase in the movement of al-Qaida operatives and money into Pakistan’s tribal territories, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials.

In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said al-Qaida’s command base in Pakistan increasingly is being funded by cash from Iraq, where the terrorist network’s operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

More after the jump. Emphasis mine.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has drawn increasingly large contributions from elsewhere in the Muslim world ? largely because the fight against U.S. forces has mobilized Middle East donors, officials said.

“Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the reason people are contributing again, with money and private contributions coming back in from the gulf,” the senior U.S. counterterrorism official said.

He added that al-Qaida in Iraq also has become an effective criminal enterprise.

“The insurgents have great businesses they run: stealing cars, kidnapping people, protection money,” the counterterrorism official said.

The former CIA official said the activity is so extensive that the “ransom-for-profit business in Iraq reminds me of Colombia and Mexico in the 1980s and ’90s.”

Remember, it’s un-American to say that our actions overseas may help build support for groups like al-Qaida. Ron Paul got roasted for it in the Republican debates.

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