US acting commander in Iraq: Al-Qaida its weakest state in 5 years

The al-Qaida terror group in Iraq appears to be at its weakest state since it gained an initial foothold in the aftermath of the US-led invasion five years ago, the acting commander of US forces in the Middle East said Wednesday in an Associated Press interview. Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who assumed interim command of US Central Command on March 28, acknowledged that al-Qaida remains a relentless foe and has not disappeared as a serious threat to stability. But he said an accelerated U.S. and Iraq campaign to pressure al-Qaida has paid big dividends. "Our forces and the Iraqi forces have certainly disrupted al-Qaida, probably to a level that we haven't seen at any time in my experience," said Dempsey, who served in Iraq in the initial stages as a division commander and later as head of the military organization in charge of training Iraqi security forces. "They can regenerate, and do from time to time," he added in the interview in his office at Central Command headquarters.