(Newsroom America) -- The al Qaeda terrorist organization is making a comeback in Iraq, setting up training centers for insurgents in the western deserts, taking advantage of political instability and the country's security shortfalls, officials have said.
Iraq has suffered a spike in al Qaeda attacks over the past 10 weeks, The Associated Press reported, citing unnamed officials. Many of those who have carried out attacks are former prisoners who have either escaped from jail or who were released by Iraqi authorities for a lack of evidence following the U.S. military withdrawal last December.
Others are said to be Saudi or have come from Sunni-dominated Gulf states.
During the Iraq war, U.S. troops partnered with allied Sunni groups and later Iraqi counterterror forces to beat back al Qaeda, but in the absence of U.S. forces, the group is reestablishing itself within Iraq's borders.
American intelligence officials say al Qaeda has more than doubled its numbers, from about 1,000 fighters a year ago to 2,500 today, carrying out at average of 140 attacks per week across the country.
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