First, on July 29, 2010 35-40 insurgents attacked a checkpoint in Adhamiya, northern Baghdad. The militants overran the post, killing three soldiers. Their bodies were then set on fire, and Al Qaeda’s black flag was raised in place of the Iraqi one. When Iraqi police and army vehicles approached the scene, they were hit by five IEDs. The Al Qaeda fighters than fled. In total, 16 were killed in the raid, 10 soldiers and policemen, four Sons of Iraq members, and two civilians. A policeman claimed that some residents even came out and cheered the attack because the local Sunni population has complained of abuses by the Shiite army unit in the neighborhood.
another similar incident occurred in the Mansour district’s Azamiya neighborhood of western Baghdad. Fighters pulled up to a checkpoint in three cars, used pistols with silencers to kill five Iraqi soldiers, raised the Al Qaeda flag, and then sped off.
Al Qaeda has lost most of its popular support, and has been reduced to individual cells, but they are still a dangerous and persistent group. They are still able to carry out operations, many of them meant to garner press coverage, and make them seem larger and more powerful than they actually are. Just recently, four members of their umbrella organization the Islamic State of Iraq, escaped from an Iraqi prison in a heavily guarded section of Baghdad at the international airport. Before that they carried out attacks on Iraq’s Central Bank and Trade Bank in June, and attacked Shiite pilgrims and Sons of Iraq in July. The withdrawal of U.S. forces, the largely Iraqi composition of the organization, continued resentment amongst some Sunnis against the U.S. presence and a Shiite run government, and other factors all contribute to Al Qaeda’s staying power. That means they will continue to be a feature of Iraq’s insurgency despite their setbacks.
Benraad, Myriam, “Assessing AQI’s Resilience After April’s Leadership Decapitations,” CTC Sentinel, June 2010
Sly, Liz and Salman, Raheem, “Deadly assault exposes Iraq’s delicate state of security,” Los Angeles Times, 7/29/10
Yacoub, Sameer, “Al-Qaida Militants Kill 5 Iraqi Troops, Plant Flag,” Associated Press, 8/3/10