In April 2010, the leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) were killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid. In June, U.S. Admiral Michael Mullen declared that AQI had been "devastated" by the killings, while Gen. Ray Odierno described the development as "the most significant blow to Al-Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency." Yet despite its recent setbacks, AQI will remain a viable organization for the foreseeable future, having become increasingly indigenous and thus more able to incorporate and exploit local grievances. Myriam Benraad's article addresses the factors behind AQI's ability to renew its ranks despite important human losses and key operational setbacks, suggesting policy actions that could more effectively counter the group.
Myriam Benraad is a Paris-based Keston Family scholar with Project Fikra: Defeating Extremism through the Power of Ideas, focusing on radical Islamism and Iraq.