For most of the past year, American, and now many Iraqi, troops have been raiding towns, villages and neighborhoods, to kill or chase out groups of terrorists who had taken up residence. The results have been impressive, if underreported. So far, 45 of the 55 Baath Party leaders shown in the 2003 "deck of cards" have been killed or captured. So far this year, one hundred al Qaeda leaders have been killed or captured. Most of these are "team leaders", running cells of six to a dozen men. But several members of the al Qaeda high command (in the top ten) have been caught as well.
Al Qaeda, and the Baath Party (who account for over 90 percent of the terrorist violence) cannot make a lot of attacks without leadership, and bases (for planning, making bombs and assembling personnel.) As their leadership, and bases, have been diminished this year, so has the number of attacks. Worst of all, public opinion in the Sunni Arab community (the core of al Qaeda and Baath Party support) has turned more against the terrorists. It's known that various terrorist factions are arguing with each other over this issue, while more and more terrorists are being killed, or caught, because of tips from Sunni Arabs. However, al Qaeda and, especially, the Baath Party, still have one potent weapon; cash. While Saddam Hussein was in charge, the Baath Party big shots grabbed billions of dollars in oil money. Several hundred million dollars of that cash was seized during the 2003 invasion, but much more was known to have gotten away. It's that money that has paid for a lot of the terrorist activity. The money is still in play.
Without a lot of fanfare, U.S. counter-terrorism forces in Iraq have gone on the offensive over the last year. Ever since Sunni Islamic terrorists were killed in, or chased out of, Fallujah last November, there has been a campaign to keep them from establishing another large base like Fallujah. What doesn't get reported is that, for the terrorists to operate effectively, they have to control towns, villages or neighborhoods. Too many Iraqis, even Sunni Arabs, will turn terrorists in. Thus to avoid raids, or smart bombs, the terrorists need to, in effect, take over areas, and terrorize the locals into keeping quiet. Same technique Saddam used, so all Iraqis know the drill. The al Qaeda crowd plays by the same rules as Saddam, but add conservative Islamic dress & lifestyle rules, which are enforced with great brutality. That's why al Qaeda got on so well with the Taliban.