Bombings Bear Signs of al-Qaida in Iraq, General Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2011 — Bomb explo­sions that have killed at least 58 Iraqis today appear to be the work of al-Qai­da in Iraq, a spokesman for U.S. Forces Iraq said here today.

The explo­sions, sim­i­lar to an attack launched in August last year, struck cities from Tikrit to Bagh­dad to Bas­ra, with the largest loss of life in Kut.

The attacks are proof that Iraq remains a dan­ger­ous place, Army Maj. Gen. Jef­frey Buchanan said.

“We haven’t seen claims for these attacks, but giv­en the tar­gets, the meth­ods, it very much looks like al-Qaida’s work,” Buchanan said in an inter­view with the Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel and Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

But though al-Qai­da in Iraq still can launch spec­tac­u­lar attacks, the gen­er­al said, the organization’s mem­ber­ship, fund­ing and free­dom of move­ment have con­tin­ued to decline.

At one time, he said, al-Qai­da in Iraq was able to launch these attacks almost dai­ly and posed an exis­ten­tial threat to the Iraqi gov­ern­ment. Today, al-Qai­da is a shad­ow or its for­mer self, and even hor­ren­dous attacks like today’s do not rep­re­sent a threat to the gov­ern­ment, Buchanan said. “[Al-Qai­da in Iraq] is between 800 to 1,000 mem­bers of all stripes, from financiers to smug­glers to media peo­ple to fight­ers,” he added.

The ter­ror­ists remain dan­ger­ous, Buchanan said, but they have been under attack by U.S. and Iraqi forces, and have lost any sup­port they had from the Iraqi peo­ple by their cal­lous bomb­ing cam­paign that kills fel­low Mus­lims.

Al-Qai­da in Iraq has nev­er changed its ide­ol­o­gy, the gen­er­al not­ed, and Iraqis know this. “They will do any­thing they can and mur­der any­one to try to over­throw the gov­ern­ment,” he said, “but they have very lit­tle sup­port.”

The ter­ror orga­ni­za­tion has lost its free­dom of move­ment in the coun­try, Buchanan said. At one time, he added, the ter­ror­ists were able to move from Mosul and Tikrit to through­out Anbar province, and in and around the sub­urbs of Bagh­dad. They had a net­work of sup­port­ers that gave them that mobil­i­ty.

The group also has lost much of the fund­ing stream it count­ed on in the past, Buchanan said, and report­ed­ly has been rob­bing banks and gold stores to mount its oper­a­tions.

Final­ly, he said, the stream of for­eign fight­ers flow­ing in to Iraq over the Syr­i­an bor­der has almost dried up.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)