Iraq The leader of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq and several of his top lieutenants have recently left Iraq for Afghanistan, according to its leaders and Iraqi intelligence officials, a possible further sign of what Iraqi and U.S. officials call growing disarray and weakness in the organization.
U.S. officials say that there are indications that al-Qaida is diverting new recruits from going to Iraq, where its fighters have suffered dramatic setbacks, to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they appear to be making gains.
Brig. Gen. Brian Keller, the senior intelligence officer for Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, said in an e-mail that he believes al-Qaida is reassessing the continued viability of its fight in Iraq. But he said the reliability of the indications that recruits have been diverted has "not yet been determined."
Al-Qaida in Iraq has long been one of the most ruthless and dangerous organizations in the country. But even some of its leaders acknowledge that it has been seriously weakened over the past year.