Al-Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI) is a shadow of its former self, primarily because broad sectors of Iraq’s Sunni population rejected it after more than three years of active and tacit cooperation. That AQI’s ideological extremism alienated many Iraqis is well understood, but radicalism alone does not fully explain AQI’s decline: poor leadership, vulnerable communication mechanisms, tension between Iraqi and foreign members, and weak indoctrination efforts contributed to strategic and tactical blunders that alienated even other Sunni insurgents. In lieu of major social and political shifts (which are possible) that offer AQI a sustained safe-haven, these dynamics are unlikely to change dramatically; they serve as important obstacles to AQI’s resurrection. Conversely, al-Qa`ida elements elsewhere, primarily along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, are hindered less by these weaknesses. There are lessons from the fight against AQI that are applicable in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but al-Qa`ida’s operations there are likely to be much more durable than those in Iraq. Section I of this paper traces al-Qa`ida in Iraq’s transition from welcome partner to mortal enemy of Iraq’s Sunni insurgents, focusing particularly on the Islamic Army of Iraq. Section II draws on declassified internal AQI correspondence and open sources to describe how external pressures from U.S. forces and tribal sources exacerbated AQI’s fallout with other insurgents while rending the movement from within. Section III assesses AQI’s prospects in Iraq and the impact of AQI’s failure on the future of the global jihadist movement. Section IV offers recommendations for containing AQI in the future and for applying the lessons of AQI’s demise to other elements.

Associated Harmony Documents

Threatening Communiqué from al-Qa`ida in the Land of the Two Rivers


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Letters to the Leadership of ISI about Issues of Single-party Control


This document is a letter sent by Ansar al Islam to the ISI asking for a public written statement that...

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Details commentary and respond to the Islamic Army letter


This document is a draft that was written by a member of al-Qa`ida in Iraq as a suggested response to...

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Commandment of the Sharia Court of the Diyala Province


This document is a commandment of the Sharia Court of the Diyala province in Iraq to adhere to the laws...

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Will and Testament of a Suicide Bomber


This document is the will and testament of an al-Qa`ida suicide bomber “martyr." In this document the author asks his...

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A Statement From the Islamic Army in Iraq


This document is a statement that was issued by the Islamic Army in Iraq. The authors starts with a short...

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Letter from Abu Hamza to Ansar al-Sunnah Highlighting Divisions


This document is a letter from Abu Hamzah in response to unfriendly letters he received. In his letter, Abu Hamzah...

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Incident Comment from the ISI Ministry of Defense (Dated 5/22/2007)


This document is a statement released by the Islamic State of Iraq Ministry of Defense to clarify the killing of...

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Points of Agreement Between the Doctor and Abu Sa`di


This document is a record of an agreement between the Doctor (Al-Hajji) and ISI (represented by Abu Sa`di) to cease...

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Analysis of the State of ISI


This document is an excerpt from the paper of an ISI member that details what he believes are the problems...

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ISI Report on the Killing of 12 Jaysh al-Mujahedeen Members


This document is a report on the 12 Jaysh al-Mujahedeen personnel who were killed by ISI. The author begins his...

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Attack Explanation Letter to a Sheik


This document is a letter to a Sheikh explaining the ISI attack in Arab Jabour in Baghdad on 12 leaders...

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Letters between Abu Hamza and a member of al-Ansar (Page 1)


This document is the first page of a letter to Abu Hamza from a member of al-Ansar about the recent...

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Letter from Abu Hamza al-Mujahir to Abi `Abdullah al-Shafi`i


This document is part of a letter from Abu Hamza to Abu `Abdullah al-Shafi`i. In this letter, Abu Hamza starts...

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Incident Comment from the ISI Ministry of Defense (Dated 6/2/2007)


This document is a compilation of handwritten letters. These letters were directed from an individual named Shu`ayb to Emir Abu...

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Press Release of an ISI Amir in Reaction to Attacks in the Amireah Region


This document is a press release from the office of Amir al-Mu'menin (Abu `Umar al-Baghdadi) in reference to the attacks...

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Letter to Abu Hamzah Asking to Fix Mistakes in the Field


This document is a letter to Abu Hamzah from Abu Fatima, requesting that he correct recent problems and investigate the...

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Letters between Abu Hamza and a member of al-Ansar (Page 3)


This document is the third page of a letter sent to Abu Hamza from a member of al-Ansar about the...

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Letters between Abu Hamza and a member of al-Ansar (Page 2)


This document is the second page of letter to Abu Hamza from a member of al-Ansar about the recent tensions...

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