Al-Qaeda in Iraq Plots Comeback as US Departs

Disgruntled Awakening forces offered raises to switch sides again
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2010 7:00 AM CDT
Al-Qaeda in Iraq Plots Comeback as US Departs
In this Saturday, March 28, 2009 file photo Awakening Council members stand guard in the Dora area of southern Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Loay Hameed, File)

Al-Qaeda in Iraq is trying to make a comeback, by luring Awakening Council fighters to defect. Awakening leaders tell the Guardian that the terrorist group is offering to pay its fighters more than the $300 a month militia members get from the government. One says he believes 100 of his 1,800 fighters have defected, because they haven’t claimed their salaries in two months.

For al-Qaeda, the time is ripe. The US is leaving, and the country’s politicians still haven’t formed a government, even though the election was five months ago. The mostly Sunni Awakening fighters, meanwhile, have frequently felt neglected by the Shiite-dominated government. “It is an easy market for al-Qaeda now,” says another Awakening leader. “The Iraqi government has disappointed them, and it is an easy choice to rejoin the terrorists.” (More al-Qaeda in Iraq stories.)

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