They’re paying for the jihad; they might as well help staff it too. No one in the Saudi government knows anything about it, of course, notwithstanding the sophistication of their security apparatus and the fact that mass-casualty attacks inside Iraq coincidentally serve the Saudi end of delegitimizing the Iranian-friendly Shiite government.

Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers…

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis…

“To suggest they’ve done nothing to stem the flow of people into Iraq is wrong,” said a U.S. intelligence official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “People do get across that border. You can always ask, ‘Could more be done?’ But what are they supposed to do, post a guard every 15 or 20 paces?”…

Others contend that Saudi Arabia is allowing fighters sympathetic to Al Qaeda to go to Iraq so they won’t create havoc at home…

With its own border with Iraq largely closed, Saudi fighters take what is now an established route by bus or plane to Syria, where they meet handlers who help them cross into Iraq’s western deserts, the senior U.S. military officer said.

He suggested it was here that Saudi Arabia could do more, by implementing rigorous travel screenings for young Saudi males. Iraqi officials agreed.

“Are the Saudis using all means possible? Of course not…. And we think they need to do more, as does Syria, as does Iran, as does Jordan,” the senior officer said. An estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters cross into Iraq each month, according to the U.S. military…

U.S. officials remain sensitive about the relationship. Asked why U.S. officials in Iraq had not publicly criticized Saudi Arabia the way they had Iran or Syria, the senior military officer said, “Ask the State Department. This is a political juggernaut.”

Per the first boldfaced part, Steyn likes to say that the global war on terror is really just a case of the Saudis having exported their own civil war, of which this certainly would be a piece. But looking the other way while jihadis slip into Iraq is only half the equation; the other half is the decision made by the the mujahedeen themselves or their superiors to terrorize Iraq instead of their country of origin. The Telegraph has an ominous piece out today about a new estimate from MI5 that 3-4,000 Brits have trained at AQ terror camps in Afghanistan. Are they in or on their way to Iraq, too? Probably not:

Some of those who came back to Britain from Afghanistan may since have given up terrorist activities. Others may have left the UK to fight in Iraq.

MI5 and MI6 are working on the assumption, however, that al-Qaeda sees its British Muslim recruits as too valuable to be used in Iraq, and that most are ordered to return to their communities in Britain to establish autonomous terrorist “sleeper cells”.

They’re well educated and fully assimilated. Why treat them like the jihadi equivalent of cannon fodder by sending them off to Baghdad? That follows the general pattern of the 9/11 hijackers too, incidentally: although 15 of the 19 were Saudi, only one of the four pilots was. The rest were “muscle” hijackers trained simply to keep the passengers at bay while the westernized professional types among them like Atta and Ziad Jarrah took care of business in the cockpit.

Meanwhile, the British counterpart of the Baker-Hamilton group is telling Gordon Brown it’s time to go home — even if that means things in Iraq getting worse “for a bit.”