Late Sunday Al-Qaeda militants, under the cover of night, skillfully executed a well calculated attack upon the infamous Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad. A group of suicide bombers drove explosive ridden vehicles to the gates of the prison while other militants took positions on the main road in an effort to fight off Baghdad Security Forces.
The attack resulted in the death of 10 policemen and four militants as it continued into Monday morning, ending after helicopters were send in to disband whatever few militants were left. Unfortunately, by that time many of Al-Qaeda's senior operatives had already fled, numbering approximately 500 individuals. Militants also conducted a simultaneous attack upon a prison in Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, that was less successful.
Sunni militants, including the Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, have been gaining traction in recent months as they have lead an insurgency against Shi'ite Muslims. This conflict has only been further kindled by the ongoing civil war occurring across the border in Syria.
The current state within Iraq is among the worst it has been since the height of the anti-U.S. insurgency between 2006-2007 and without a doubt the worst the country has seen since the United States withdrawal in 2011. The Republic of Iraq has been having extreme difficulty in bridging the growing tensions between its three main ethnic groups, the Shi'ites, Sunnis, and Kurds, causing an increased ease in Al-Qaeda recruitments.
Infighting has grown within Syria as the Free Syrian Army must now fight against Islamist groups such as The Islamic State in Iraq as well as the forces loyal to Bashar Al-Assad. Due to the large presence that the Islamic State of Iraq has within Syria one can question whether or not senior Al-Qaeda officials will seek to expand their presence further within Syria.
Up to now, Al-Qaeda has been primarily operating through affiliate groups such as AQIM and AQAP due to the lack of central leadership that has occurred since the killing of Osama Bin Laden. After this prison break, could the world start to see an increase in organizational structure with Al-Qaeda, or will it continue with its decentralized trend?