Al Qaeda in Iraq video details deadly raid in Haditha

Warning: the video is extremely graphic and shows al Qaeda in Iraq fighters brutally executing Iraqi policemen.

The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda's political front in the country, recently released a video detailing a sophisticated attack in March that included dozens of fighters dressed as police commandos in the western city of Haditha in Anbar province. During the raid, al Qaeda in Iraq fighters killed 27 Iraqi policemen, including two police commanders.

Al Furqan, the official media arm of the Islamic State of Iraq, released the video on jihadist Internet forums on Aug. 16. The video is more than 49 minutes long and was shot in high definition, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained and translated the video. A shorter version of the video, seen above, was published on LiveLeak.

The full video details an extremely brazen and sophisticated operation. Scores of fighters (al Qaeda in Iraq had previously stated that more than 90 fighters participated in the operation, and based on the video, the claim appears to be correct) dressed in police SWAT uniforms, including helmets and bullet-proof vests, and riding dozens of pickup trucks with flashing police lights, drove into Haditha and neighboring Barwana, targeted five locations, disarmed the local police, and brutally executed them.

The video begins with al Qaeda operatives training in the desert at the so-called "Sheikhein Camp" in Anbar province. The fighters are seen conducting live-fire exercises and target practice. The training ends with a night march in the desert; al Qaeda in Iraq's banner was prominently displayed during the march.

The assault team is then given a briefing on the planned attack. The group is "divided into four battalions: the Battalion of Abu Bakr al Siddiq, the Battalion of Omar ibn al Khattab, the Battalion of Uthman bin Affan, and the Battalion of Ali bin Abu Talib," according to SITE. The battalions are named after companions of the Prophet Mohammed. The briefer explains the operation and uses a white board to outline their movements. Five targets are to be hit by three of the battalions while the fourth, the Ali bin Abu Talib, is to provide security on the roads just outside the cities.

The al Qaeda fighters are then issued uniforms that are worn by SWAT teams in the Iraqi National Police. Later that night, the militants, disguised as police commandos, get in the pickup trucks, some which have heavy machine guns mounted in the bed. Lights flashing, the al Qaeda fighters cruise the desert highways before they hit their targets: police barracks, checkpoints, and two senior Iraqi police commanders.

The Iraqi policemen appear to be stunned by the raids and comply with the al Qaeda operatives, clearly believing them to be INP commandos.

The al Qaeda fighters flex-cuff the policemen, drag them outside of their positions, and line them up on the ground. The insurgents then walk down the line, and coldly shoot the policemen in the head with silenced pistols.

The al Qaeda operatives are shown shown capturing and executing two senior police commanders, Muhammad Hussein al Shufayr al Jughayfi and Khalid al Jughayfi.

The March 5 raid in Haditha was well-planned and executed, and was clearly designed to sow chaos and mistrust in the ranks of the Iraqi security forces. The raid was also likely intended to stir up Sunni-Shia tensions. Iraq's National Police force is widely considered a Shia-dominated institution, while Anbar is a mostly Sunni province. Al Qaeda in Iraq's spokesman indicated earlier this year that the terror group is seeking to revive sectarian tensions [see Threat Matrix report, Al Qaeda in Iraq rails at Shias, claims deadly attacks].

Al Qaeda in Iraq has stepped up attacks since the end of last year, when US forces completed their withdrawal from the country. While the terror group does not openly control territory as it did in 2007, before US and Iraqi forces drove it from strongholds throughout the country, al Qaeda in Iraq can still organize and execute large-scale attacks, such as the Haditha raid. The group has also launched coordinated attacks in multiple cities throughout the country. Al Qaeda in Iraq is estimated to have killed 404 Iraqis during the recent monthlong Ramadan holiday, according to AFP.


READER COMMENTS: "Al Qaeda in Iraq video details deadly raid in Haditha"

Posted by Graham at August 21, 2012 1:26 AM ET:

This is a war crime.

Posted by Ghost Soldier at August 21, 2012 1:33 AM ET:

I'm not fluent in Arabic so forgive the apparently lack of knowledge in this question:

Did the AQ posing as Iraqi commandos speak with any discernible dialect? There appears to be no resistance save but for one or two of those executed; I am wondering if the Arabic-speaking readers here can identify any dialect possibly foreign to Iraq.

Posted by Birbal Dhar at August 21, 2012 5:47 AM ET:

It shows how easily how the terrorists can get these police vehicles, weapons and uniforms. It means these police uniforms are easily available in markets to get or that suppliers making these uniforms are selling these to terrorists either willingly or by force.

When you have a chaotic or corrupt society like Iraq or even Pakistan, where terrorists can easily operate, you will get terrorists dressed up in police uniform killing people.

Unfortunately this won't be the last in these killings, unless society and government does something about it.

Posted by Jason Blatter at August 21, 2012 10:53 AM ET:

Ummm. Wow. Very well equipped and planned operation. Bold, disciplined, and ruthlessly efficient. I can only hope the Iraqi police and military can take some lesson from this. From a military history perspective, this was as good tactically as many other operations we've read about over the last several decades, although strategically we will have to give it some time before it can be called a success. Scary video, and I feel true pity for the men slaughtered.

Posted by Mr T at August 21, 2012 1:16 PM ET:

"Fighters then walk down the line"

These are not "fighters". They are cowardly murderers. Shooting people who are helplessly tied up is extremely cowardly and evil. No religion justifies this.

Posted by wallbangr at August 21, 2012 1:24 PM ET:

Didn't watch the video because I abhor the porn-like obsession these savages have with gore and violence. I will say that this was a frighteningly effective attack and must raise serious concerns for the INP. The sectarian wounds were never healed in Iraq and likely never will be. This does not bode well for the security of Anbar province. I would imagine anyone in the INP would be jumpy around their own guys after this. Not unlike the apprehension and mistrust that the so-called green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan have sown. It doesn't help that these guys can freely access uniforms, vehicles with sirens, heavy weapons and even silencers.

Posted by chris at August 21, 2012 9:09 PM ET:

uhhh, what vid, all i see is error code with 4 numbers, perhaps you could include the link?

I assume it's there as others have commented.



Posted by Swifty at August 21, 2012 9:48 PM ET:

Sunnis killing Shiites. Nothing new for these folks. :(

Posted by Gio at August 22, 2012 7:01 AM ET:

Someone get these pigs behind the despicable crime and bring them to justice

Posted by iraqi at August 22, 2012 3:24 PM ET:

Otrdo Shiites from the government because they have been killed year and Ahjrōhm help Iran ...... Iran enemy America is another side to the Iraqi governmen

Posted by Naser at August 22, 2012 3:55 PM ET:

But they are not Kalamrakyin kill children and terrorize families broke into their homes in Mentsg night and urinating on the bodies of the dead
They just Bakthelon shoes left by the Americans practiced the same vile States in dealing with refuse Ahnlal their country and wasting their dignity

Posted by Lola at August 22, 2012 4:32 PM ET:

America was considered as an occupation force in Iraq and the current Iraqi government was made by the occupation, so for these fighters, all of its members are considered as traitors and thus they are legitimate targets. Besides, those Iraqi policemen are not innocents, they have killed a lot of Iraqi civilians.

This is a complex conflict, so to have a better judgement, you need to listen to the other side and not just adopting the view of one side without questioning.

Posted by john hinter at August 22, 2012 4:38 PM ET:

Marvellous !!!

Posted by dave at August 22, 2012 6:03 PM ET:

Ive realised none of this stuff is religion. Its just evil evil people that justify any action through religion. Islam doesnt justify actions like this.

Also i dont udnerstand why 1) these people are not in ultra locked compartments and 2) there isnt some sort of rule where by an iraq police can only be arrested at an iraq police station.

This sort of attack has happened a number of times and I cant understand why procedures arent in place to prevent it. RIP poor men

Posted by blert at August 23, 2012 3:38 AM ET:

It's so professional -- over equipped -- that it may be a false flag propaganda gambit.

The cops in al Anbar are very likely to be SUNNI -- and part of the awakening movement.

The perps could well be directly connected to a government faction -- hence their ability to roll in with w a a y too much heavy equipment -- and the goal two fold: direct elimination of the opposition and creating a propaganda windfall.

It doesn't look like an AQ in Iraq gambit: too slick.

Posted by John at August 24, 2012 12:48 AM ET:

Do you think these terrorists have already put their hands on the WMD that America found in Iraq?!

Posted by jose at September 11, 2012 8:21 AM ET:

it is sad that this has to happen. when will int end and do they really get anything out of all the killing? what civilized govt. will ever work with a govt. made of killers and sick people that can take justice into their hands and kill people in cold blood. I wonder if they understand what isolation means because in the end that is what they will be another N. Korea where only the Sun is allowed in because it cannot be stopped at the border. Kill until there is nothing more to do my brothers. while your at it try putting oil on the bread you eat as well see if it tastes as good you think it is worth all that carnage.