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With al Qaeda Strengthening, MU Professor Says the United States Should Exit Iraq and Focus on Afghanistan

July 13, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan Daniels, 573-882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — With reports of a strengthened al Qaeda, a University of Missouri-Columbia professor today said the United States should now turn its attention from Iraq and, instead, focus on dealing with the terrorist organization.

“The solution is to leave Iraq as soon as possible and as painlessly as possible,” said Paul Wallace, professor emeritus of political science in the College of Arts and Science. “We've got to focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan. It needs to be a cooperative endeavor that includes countries and organizations from that region, such as Iran, Syria, Egypt, the United Nations and Arab League. We have to eliminate Iraq as a major issue and focus our resources in Afghanistan.”

Wallace, a terrorism expert, said he wasn't surprised by reports that al Qaeda is at its strongest since attacking the United States in 2001. He said the situation in Iraq is primarily to blame because American military forces attacked under false pretenses, antagonizing Muslims around the world, and the country consequently has become a recruiting ground and training base for terrorists.

“I've been reading about it for more than a year,” he said. “Furthermore, in recent months, they've been advertising an offensive this summer. Often, al Qaeda says things and tends to carry through.”

Wallace has been a member of MU's faculty since 1964. Since 1993, he has taught a course about terrorism, “Terrorism: Ethnic, Religious and Ideological Politics.” He has authored numerous articles and chapters on the subject. In 2003, he served as an expert witness at the Air India trial in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also serves on the Editors/Advisory Board for the annual edition of Violence and Terrorism published by McGraw-Hill/Dushkin. His most recent book chapter is: “Countering Terrorist Movements in India: Kashmir and Khalistan, in Democracy ad Counterterrorism: Lessons from the Past” (Washington DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2007).