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.”