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As al-Qaeda grows more diffuse, its franchise operations in places like Iraq appear to be gaining in strength and numbers. Across the country, suicide attacks against civilians are up in recent months, according to a March study by the Gulf Research Center, a Middle East policy institute. The latest attacks, many of which were carried out by al-Qaeda’s foreign fighters, have been timed to undermine the U.S.-led surge of additional forces (AP) into central Iraq. The organization is also increasingly carrying out attacks using multiple bombs, the report finds. And groups linked to al-Qaeda like Islamic State of Iraq have kidnapped nearly twenty government employees (al-Jazeera) near Baghdad, undeterred by the U.S. troop presence in the capital. Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s ranks may have swelled to as many as 60,000 fighters, according to a January 2007 Center for Strategic and International Studies report.