Speaking today in an interview, Brigadier General Patrick Higgins insisted that despite the US having fought the group for seven years now, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) remains “pretty much intact,” though he did say the group has been weakened.
Brig. Gen. Higgins says that the increasing lack of foreign funding for the AQI has led the group to launch more kidnappings and take part in extortion schemes, and that some members of the group have in effect because assassins for hire by other groups looking to “outsource” attacks.
Despite claims of progress in Iraq, violence has been rising steadily for several months, and in July the death toll was the highest in over two years. Military officials are now predicting that the violence will increase even further in the weeks ahead.
But the reports about AQI will be particularly embarrassing as President Obama tries to sell his “drawdown” strategy as the virtual end to the war (despite US designs on years of additional fighting in the nation). After all, AQI was not a presence in Iraq before the 2003 US invasion.
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