Daily Iraq Report for March 14, 2007
Yet another 24 hours have past and there have been no reports of major mass casualty suicide or car bomb attacks in Baghdad or the provinces. The closest incident was a suicide attack which occurred in Tuz Khormato, a town about 130 miles north of Baghdad. Eight were killed and 25 wounded after a suicide attack in a crowded market. The last major attack occurred on Saturday. While the security operation is still in its infancy, and there is much work to be done, the short term signs are encouraging. One item to note: the four year anniversary of the U.S. invasion is coming up next week, and it may be possible al-Qaeda in Iraq is conserving its forces for a show of force and the resulting media attention.
On the security front, 44 "terrorists" were killed and 126 captured, according to As Sabah. Two of the terrorists were described as "leaders of Qaeda organization in Anbar," and were reported to have been killed by "citizens from Anbar." These citizens would be the Anbar Salvation Council, and its militia, the Thuwra al-Anbar, which is a grouping of tribes and former insurgents who have banded together to hunt al-Qaeda.
Yesterday, Iraqi police arrested Ahmed Faraj and Ali Jassim, "leaders in the [1920s Revolution Brigade]," in Abu Ghraib. Insurgent groups such as the 1920s Revolution Brigade and the Islamic Army in Iraq have split as al-Qaeda in Iraq and its political front the Islamic State of Iraq have attempted to forcefully incorporate the Sunni insurgent groups.
Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, issued a tape yesterday. The incorporation of the Sunni insurgent groups into the Islamic State of Iraq was a major concern for Baghdadi. He discusses the "media attack against the new Islamic State," and gives one of the reasons for the attack is to "to attempt to strike against the Islamic State of Iraq using other jihad groups." Baghdadi is referring to insurgent groups that are now working with the Anbar Salvation Council and the soon to be created anti al Qaeda organization in Diyala. Baghdadi also claims the Islamic State in Iraq is the only legitimate political and military organization in Iraq. As Nibras Kazimi noted yesterday, the appointment of al-Baghdadi as the Caliph, along with the strict demands for insurgent groups to subsume themselves to the Islamic State, has made Baghdadi and al Qaeda some real enemies within the Sunni community.
On the Iranian front, yet another Qods Force general has gone missing in Iraq. "Mohammed Muhsayin Shiradi, from a unit in the Jerusalem Brigade, has not been in touch with his commanders for three weeks," Alsharq Alawsat has reported. It is believed he is in U.S. custody. The Jerusalem Brigade is Qods Force, Iran's version of U.S. Special Forces. Shiradi's disappearance follows that of Ali Reza Asgari, a former commander of Qods Force, the "father of Hezbollah" and deputy defense minister. He disappeared in Turkey and is believed to have defected to the West.
The U.S. and Iran have been fighting a shadow war in Iraq. Since December, the U.S. raided two so-called Iranian diplomatic missions in Irbil and Baghdad, and have 5 Qods Force operatives in custody. Iran fired back by attacking a provincial center in Karbala, kidnapping an subsequently killing 5 U.S. soldiers. The U.S. has outlined Iran's involvement in supplying weapons and expertise to the insurgency. Intelligence sources claim Iran is supplying Shia militias and al Qaeda with sophisticated sniper rifles and anti aircraft missiles to shoot down U.S. helicopters.