'Degraded' al-Qaida group still violent

Sept. 28, 2010 at 2:00 PM

BAGHDAD, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- An al-Qaida insurgent group said to be in disarray and all but finished in Iraq struck back this summer with a wave of violence, military officials said.

Military commanders in Iraq said this spring al-Qaida in Mesopotamia was all but eliminated as a threat after American and Iraqi troops killed or captured many of its leaders, The New York Times reported.

The group's "network has been degraded" since this spring, military officers said after 34 of its top 42 leaders were killed or captured.

But this summer the Sunni insurgent group renewed its attacks as Iraq suffered some of its highest casualty figures in almost two years, the newspaper said.

The bombings, assassinations and raids on government banks and an Iraqi military headquarters have come during a difficult period.

A political vacuum has left Iraq without a government for more than six months since parliamentary elections, and the role and presence of American troops have been greatly reduced, exposing serious weaknesses in Iraqi security forces, officials said.

"The people who said al-Qaida in Iraq was finished were fooling themselves," said Hadi al-Amiri, former leader of a Shiite militia and also of the Parliament's security committee. "They have sleeper cells throughout the country that have always been capable of rising up at any moment. They will not be finished in Iraq anytime soon."

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