Al-Qaida In Iraq Weakened But Still Dangerous Ever since the capture this spring of two senior leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi military commanders say the extremist group is on the wane. Despite that, the same officials worry that al-Qaida militants might be merging with other Sunni insurgent groups.
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Al-Qaida In Iraq Weakened But Still Dangerous

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Al-Qaida In Iraq Weakened But Still Dangerous

Al-Qaida In Iraq Weakened But Still Dangerous

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

DON GONYEA, Host:

NPR's Kelly McEvers recently traveled to Mosul and sent this report.

KELLY MCEVERS: Even though the shops are now shuttered, the walls have been riddled with bullets, and the smell of garbage and rot hangs in the air, General Mohammad says he's trying to take the neighborhood back. His men stop every car that passes and check passengers' names against a so-called black list of wanted insurgents.

MOHAMMAD SABRI LATIF: Unidentified Woman: If they find one of the names, then they will arrest him right away.

MCEVERS: Just in the past few days, grenades, roadside bombs and gunmen have killed and injured scores of Iraqi security forces here. On this day, the team has received reports of a roadside bomb that was planted in front of a hospital.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOTS)

MCEVERS: The gunshots we just heard were Iraqi federal police, shooting at the explosive device in order to dismantle it.

SABRI LATIF: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: General Mohammad orders his men away from the scene. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Reid describes the bomb.

DANIEL REID: It was a water bottle that had been packed with homemade explosives and then filled the rest of the way with very small, sharp rocks, and then a cell phone initiator on it. Basically, a grenade with rock shrapnel.

MCEVERS: Now, al-Qaida in Iraq might have decided that an Islamic state is no longer a viable goal, says Lieutenant Colonel Michael Marti, the senior U.S. intelligence officer here in the north.

MICHAEL MARTI: What I think that they do think is viable is that they could at least cause enough either real degradation to security - or create the perception of degraded security - so that they have the ability to move and operate and still do things inside of Iraq.

MCEVERS: Brian Fishman is a terrorism analyst at the Washington-based New America Foundation. He says just because al-Qaida's scope might have narrowed, it doesn't mean the group has disappeared.

BRIAN FISHMAN: And it doesn't mean that they're not dangerous. It just means that they're less dangerous, and that the type of threat they pose has shifted.

MCEVERS: Kelly McEvers, NPR News, Baghdad.

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