Gen. Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, said today that Al Qaeda is a diminished threat and that Iran has moved away from instigating violence. But he also said that Iraqi Shiite militants who trained in Iran are planning a major attack.
General Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, said in a Monitor interview that US and Iraqi forces have broken large Al Qaeda in Iraq rings that extorted millions of dollars a year from companies.
After the killing this week of the two top leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, officials in Baghdad said more important gains have recently been made in dismantling the group's networks.
US and Iraqi officials say DNA evidence proves they killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the key link between Al Qaeda internationally and its offshoot in Iraq, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the senior Iraqi member of the group. But one analyst is skeptical.
Iraq said Monday it had killed Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, allegedly two of the most senior members of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The US said DNA testing had confirmed their deaths.
The attacks underscore the security challenges after the US withdrawal from cities, particularly in the volatile areas in the north.
Iraqi security forces say they arrested Abu Omar al-Baghdadi in April. US officials say they are uncertain whether the name refers to a specific person or is simply a commonly used pseudonym within the insurgency.
Al Qaeda in Iraq appears to be exploiting instability in Iraq's government
The arrest is perhaps the greatest blow to the insurgency since Zarqawi was killed in 2006.