There is no doubt that they do exist, and there is no doubt that they do contribute to the instability. The question is, to what extent. The Bush administration like to spin this aspect of the story to place most of the blame for the fighting on foreign elements, and tends to include stopping the influx of these forces in their justifications for missions. The trouble is, the numbers of foreign fighters found never appears to justify this lie.
BAGHDAD - Before 8,500 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers methodically swept through Tall Afar two months ago in the year's largest counterinsurgency offensive, commanders described the northern city as a logistics hub for fighters, including foreigners entering the country from Syria, 65 miles to the west.
When the air and ground operation wound down in mid-September, nearly 200 insurgents had been killed and close to 1,000 detained, the military said at the time. But interrogations and other analyses carried out in recent weeks showed that none of those captured was from outside Iraq.
Please note, a mission that was specifically designed to round up those foreign fighters found not a single one.
Today we are in the middle of operation steel curtain. This was designed, in part, to cut off and round up more foreign fighters. In this operation more troops are dying, and unfortunately, if the past proves out, only a few foreign fighters will be found. The rest of those we are fighting are Iraqi's, you know, the people who would greet us with praise and flowers.
Iraq Steel Curtain