Al Qaeda in Iraq

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Founded in October 2004, al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) emerged from a transnational terrorist group created and led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The original iteration of the group, Bayat al Imam, began in Jordan in the early 1990s. The group first associated with al Qaeda’s senior leadership in 1999 and fought alongside al Qaeda core and the Taliban during the U.S. strikes in Afghanistan in late 2001. Shortly after, the group transferred to Iraq in anticipation of the U.S.-led invasion. From 2003 through 2007, the group galvanized the Iraqi insurgency until its high-profile, divisively brutal tactics and failure to deliver meaningful gains to its nominal constituents led to a reversal in its popularity. The death of Zarqawi in 2006 has been followed with a series of successful counterterror strikes against his successors. Nonetheless, the group has proven resilient and though its activities are greatly diminished since its operational peak in 2007, it has proven still capable of carrying out high-profile attacks, particularly against soft targets.