Benraad believes that Al Qaeda in Iraq will still be around for the foreseeable future. One reason is that the group is largely Iraqi now. At first, it was mostly made up of and led by foreigners like Zarqawi and Masri. Today it is almost all locals. Another factor is that in June 2009 U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq’s cities. That gave more room for the Islamists to operate in. The Americans are due to drawdown to just 50,000 troops by August 31, 2010 as well, which could increase Al Qaeda’s opportunities to sow mayhem. The group also plays upon the lingering resentment amongst some Sunnis that the United States is an occupier. That wont end even when the U.S. withdraws as Al Qaeda has painted the new Iraqi government as American puppets and the new occupier. The United States has also been emptying its prisons as it pulls out. Some of these detainees came into contact with or were recruited by Al Qaeda while they were incarcerated. The American military claims that the recidivism rate amongst these former convicts is low, but the Iraqis claim otherwise.
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