Al Qaeda Iraq Leader Bails?
The Washington Post’s Amit Paley has more evidence from Iraq that Al Qaeda is in complete disarray: Al-Qaeda in Iraq Leader May Be in Afghanistan.
BAGHDAD, July 30 — The leader of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq and several of his top lieutenants have recently left Iraq for Afghanistan, according to group leaders and Iraqi intelligence officials, a possible further sign of what Iraqi and U.S. officials call growing disarray and weakness in the organization.
U.S. officials say there are indications that al-Qaeda is diverting new recruits from going to Iraq, where its fighters have suffered dramatic setbacks, to going to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they appear to be making gains.
“We do believe al-Qaida is doing some measure of re-assessment regarding the continued viability of its fight in Iraq and whether Iraq should remain the focus of its efforts,” Brig. Gen. Brian Keller, senior intelligence officer for Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, wrote in an e-mail. But Keller said that the reliability of indications that recruits have been diverted has “not yet been determined” and that U.S. officials have no evidence that top al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders have gone to Afghanistan.
A largely homegrown insurgent group that American officials believe is led by foreigners, al-Qaeda in Iraq has long been one of the most ruthless and dangerous organizations in the country. But even some of its leaders acknowledge that it has been seriously weakened over the past year.
The number of foreign fighters entering Iraq has dropped to 20 a month, down from about 110 a month last summer and as many as 50 a month earlier this year, according to a senior U.S. intelligence analyst who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of his work.