Al Qaeda is losing ground in Baghdad, Gen. David Petraeus said today, even as the group showed its fangs by abducting 10 opposition tribal leaders. “Its presence has been significantly reduced,” Petraeus said, but cautioned that al Qaeda was still “dangerous and very lethal.” Gunmen, meanwhile, abducted seven Sunni and three Shiite sheiks returning from an anti-Qaeda strategy conference.
The big problem for Baghdad now is crime, Petraeus said, describing “mafia-like” extortion and kidnapping rings. Sectarian violence is down, with another general saying October attacks dropped by 300. But elsewhere in Iraq, a car bomb ripped through a Kirkuk bus terminal, killing eight and wounding 26. Kirkuk is an oil-rich town that Iraq’s northern Kurds would like to annex.