al Qaeda and Iraqi Security Forces

al Qaeda continues its “Ramadan Offensive” of car bombings in an attempt to disrupt the upcoming election and sow defeatism in the heart of the American public. In an attack in Tal Afar, a suicide car bomber rams his vehicle into the center of an open market, killing thirty civilians and wounding forty-seven. Iraqi police and Army units are targets throughout the country as well.

The Iraqi Security Forces are fighting back, and are doing so with much more skill as had been demonstrated in the past. Reports of mass desertions or Iraqi troops refusing to fight are a rarity these days. In the month preceding Operation Saratoga, Iraqi Security Forces took heavy casualties while fighting the insurgency, choosing to stand rather than flee in the face of terror.

In Baghdad, the Iraqi Security Forces have taken control of four districts in the city, and, in conjunction with Coalition forces, are stepping up operations in and around the city in anticipation of the election. South of Baghdad, Special Police Commandos, working with the 3rd Squadron of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment kill two terrorists and capture fifty seven suspects. In a single day of operations in Baghdad, thirty four suspects are arrested. Iraqi forces shouldered load, conducting 80% of the operations individually and participating in over 90% of the total operations:

Iraqi Security Forces and Task Force Baghdad Soldiers also carried out more than 470 patrols and manned more than 350 traffic control points all over the city to provide security for Iraqi citizens. Iraqi Soldiers and police conducted nearly 370 of the missions themselves and teamed with Coalition Forces on 50 others.

Iraqi Security Forces are able to carry a greater burden of the security responsibilities because they are increasing their tactical proficiency. We saw an example of this during Operation Mountaineers, when an Iraqi Army unit was ambushed and instead of fleeing, they held their ground and killed seven insurgents, while only sustaining minor wounds. Multinational Forces Iraq provides two further examples of the Iraqi Security Forces’ skills in combat and policing.

Troops from the 3rd Iraqi Army Division captured three terrorists after being attacked Oct. 8 in the vicinity of Biaj. After striking an IED and coming under small-arms fire, the Iraqi troops counterattacked, performed a cordon-and-search operation and netted the insurgents. Three soldiers suffered minor injuries, and no damages were reported 

Iraqi police killed two terrorists before they could detonate a car bomb in eastern Baghdad Oct. 6. Three plainclothes Iraqi police officers were on patrol when they noticed a car stopped on the side of the road. The driver was behind the wheel, but the passenger was standing outside the car and talking on a cell phone.

The terrorists, believed to be from the town of Ramadi, pulled their weapons and fired after the police officers identified themselves and asked a few simple questions about what they were doing and if they had their vehicle registration.

“When the terrorists fired at us, they hit one of us in the arm, but all three of us took cover and immediately fired back,” said Dafer, of the El Wea Police Department. Within seconds, the police officers killed both terrorists. The Iraqi police called for more support on the radio and provided first aid to their wounded comrade.

After calling for backup, the officers noticed missiles and containers of propane gas, so they called an explosive ordnance disposal team. The EOD team deactivated the car bomb and hauled it away, moving the explosives to a safe location.

There are other examples at the Iraqi Police’s abilities to detect attacks and react accordingly.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi understood the very real threat of a trained, professional security force manned by Iraqi citizens. In a letter written in early 2004 to Osama bin Laden, Zarqawi stated he was “determined to target them with force in the near future, before their power strengthens.” This al Qaeda has done, but with little effect, as Iraqis continue to flock to join the security services.

Zarqawi stated that al Qaeda had two options in Iraq, and he explained the difficulty inherent in the first choice of fighting the Iraqi security services:

If we fight them, that will be difficult because there will be a schism between us and the people of that region. How can we kill their cousins and sons and under what pretext, after the Americans start withdrawing? The Americans will continue to control from their bases, but the sons of this land will be the authority. This is the Democracy, we will have no pretext [to continue the fight].

Zarqawi’s second option wasn’t so rosy as well:

We can pack up and leave and look for another land, just like it has happened in so many lands of jihad. Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases. By God, this is suffocation! We will be on the roads again.

That al Qaeda has not quit the fight in the face of the establishment of the government and the growth of the Iraqi Security Forces shows a certain degree of desperation, as well as the level of commitment the organization has made in Iraq. Ayman al-Zawahiri’s recently intercepted letter to Zarqawi underscores this point when he stated Iraq is “the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era.”

al Qaeda’s pretext for continuing the fight has been eroding for some time, yet they repeatedly commit acts of violence that only serves to alienate the bulk of the Iraqi people. Insurgent groups sympathetic to al Qaeda’s efforts to eject the U.S. from Iraq recoil at Zarqawi’s declaration of war against the Shiites, and even Zawahiri chided Zarqawi for his wanton brutality. As the Iraqi government and security services continue to grow, albeit fitfully at times, the power of al Qaeda wanes in Iraq.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Tom W. says:

    Imagine going up against “men” who use women and children as human shields; behead you if they capture you alive; kidnap and kill your children and stuff their bodies with explosives; blow up thousands of your fellow citizens at marketplaces; kill your children when they go to ice-cream shops; kill your children’s teachers in front of them; kill your women if they don’t wear head-to-toe body bags.
    It’s amazing that so many Iraqis are willing to face these animals, and it’s horrifying that the enlightened and morally superior “world community” has been virtually silent about what the animals are doing in Iraq.
    The Iraqis have learned who their real friends are–the men and women who stand by their side and fight the animals with them.

  • Dave From Chicago says:

    Good news guys!
    I wonder what changes they made to get the deal done. Anyways this is very good news! Lets hope the mainstream media doesn’t ignore it

  • Dave From Chicago says:

    hmmm maybe this:
    The sides agreed to a measure stating that if the draft constitution is passed, the next parliament will be able to consider amendments to it that would then be put to a new referendum next year, Shiite and Sunni officials said.

  • TallDave says:

    The ISF do seem to be getting a lot better.
    Amazingly, I still see people claiming Iraqis aren’t even fighting.
    Thank again for the great coverage, I can’t say that enough.
    Hopefully we hear more is going on in Ramadi and Samarra soon.

  • TallDave says:

    That IS great news Dave! Thanks for sharing.
    at least one Sunni Arab party said it would reverse its rejection of the document and urge its supporters to approve it in next weekend’s referendum.
    The referendum might get over 50% in every province now. That would really be something to celebrate.
    (BTW, I’m over in Vernon Hills (94 & 60, west of Lake Forest). Go Sox!)

  • Sgt. York says:

    The reality is that the bulk of those attacking US forces in Iraq are Iraqis fighting the military occupation of their country and the continued killing of their families.
    Likely, every Iraqi Sunni hates the Americans [40% of the country] and most Iraqi Shia hate the continuing military occupation. The only Iraqis tolerating the occupation are the Kurds, because they want an independant Kurdistan, and the supporters of the current ersatz-government consisting of puritanical fundamentalist Islamists who are simply “playing along” until they can attain their goal of creating an Islamic Republic aligned with Iran.
    In case you haven’t been paying attention, the current ersatz-government consists of SCIRI [Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq] and al-DAWA [call to Islam] and both groups are extemist fundamentalists closely aligned with Iran. In fact, al-DAWA is a terrorist organization funded and trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
    Building up the New Iraqi Army is simply replacing the Badr Brigades and associated militias with a well-trained, well equipt, modern army and turning it over to SCIRI and al-DAWA.

  • johnnn says:

    #6 – ummmmm…. are ya feelin’ alright?
    Anyways, Great post Bill!

  • Sgt. York says:

    It looks more and more like Iran is going to win the Iraq-US war. Having Iraq controlled by puritanical fundamentalist Shia Islamists aligned with Iran will be just as much a disaster as having Iraq controlled by puritanical fundamentalist Sunni “Taliban” Islamists.
    SCIRI and al-DAWA are not the good guys.

  • PeterArgus says:

    If the Iraqi Security Forces have reached a turning point towards being a professional army as it appears they have the Ay-Man is doomed. It’s time to cut losses and find another sanctuary. I suspect he and his comrades are looking to Asia. Seems like the next thing for jihad.

  • Justin Capone says:

    You are reading my mind, if the Constitution gets over 50% in every province the insurgency will be wiped out very quickly in the next couple months as the Sunni community turns on them.

  • Justin Capone says:

    The revision would create a panel in Iraq’s next parliament with the power to propose broad revisions to the constitution, which would otherwise have been largely set in stone if the public approved it on Saturday.
    The agreement was a major victory for American officials, who have spent weeks urging Iraq’s Shiite and Kurdish leaders to make changes that would soften Sunni opposition to the charter.
    “This will give a new chance to the people who were not present in the writing of the constitution,” said Ala Maki, a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraq’s best known Sunni political group, which had been urging its members to vote against the document on Saturday’s referendum. “We think this may be the beginning of a new era, and we think it is a great success.”
    The apparent breakthrough came as American officials and Iraq’s top political leaders spent a third straight day struggling to agree on changes to the draft constitution that might persuade more Sunni Arabs to vote for the document in Saturday’s nationwide referendum, a major milestone in the American-inspired blueprint for democracy in Iraq.
    This is as big and positive as anything from Iraq since the January elections and it is more damaging to the insurgency long term then anything I could imagine.
    This will give the Sunnis a huge motivation and stake in the political process. Meaning that they are going to have to totally mobilize to vote in December to change the Constiution like they want it to be.

  • desert rat says:

    Africa, Peter, Africa. That is the next Front. Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia. I’d say those are the next hot spots in the Mohammedan Millenium Mahdi Wars.

  • TallDave says:

    Having Iraq controlled by puritanical fundamentalist Shia Islamists
    Yeah, one small problem with that scenario: Iraq is controlled by the Iraqi people. They elect their leaders now. And the secularists are expected to make big gains in the next election.

  • PSGInfinity says:

    PeterArgus & desert rat,
    One of you two have the right idea, so I’ll bring the snark.

    Refuge idea #1: how about American college campuses?
    Refuge idea #2: or European ones?
    Refuge idea #3: or the Mediacrat Party newsrooms, here or in Europe?
    Refuge idea #4: Bezerkely, Hollyweird, Austin, or some other Blue Dot area?

  • Sgt. York while there is a strong Shia presence in the police force in Basra, from what I have read about Mosul and elsewhere some very tough cops are Sunni and working toward a stable Iraqi democracy. Check out the latest post by Michael Yon //
    There is a large section devoted to the increasing professionalism and determination of the Iraqi police force in Mosul, which is made up mostly of Sunni’s.

  • Glenmore says:

    How much of the improved performance of the Iraqi Security Forces is due to improvement in their proficiency and how much is the result of degradation in ability of the AIF?

  • windknot says:

    “The reality is that the bulk of those attacking US forces in Iraq are Iraqis fighting the military occupation of their country and the continued killing of their families.”
    Umm, all the news I read suggests the terrorists/ insurgents are killing Iraqi families. As for the Shia handing Iraq to Iran after the elections…. not likely. The Shia fought Iran and died by the 100,000’s because they feel that THEIR leaders in Najaf are the true leaders and scholars of the sect. Also, Sistani has now declared that he will recommend no political lists for the upcoming elections.
    A smart move if you think about it.

  • TallDave says:

    Sistani’s behavior has been astonishingly nonpolitical. He is the anti-Ayatollah.
    The really amusing thing about the “Shia Iraq will become a theocracy!” meme is that the top Shia cleric in Iraq is a secularist! His philosophy is that clerics should stay out of politics.

  • Sgt. New York says:

    The Iraqis are carving out a new identity for themselves, free from the fascist socialists who have been running their country into the ground for decades. Wish them luck.

  • vucommodore says:

    This is definitely good news. This is the first real tangible progress that I’ve seen during this whole conflict. Political resolution is the solution to the insurgency. Foreign terrorists are irrelevant if the Sunni population of Iraq does not continue to house them.

  • Justin Capone says:

    “With the changes, I will give my full support to the constitution,” said Mishan Jabouri, a Sunni Arab who was involved in negotiations. An opponent of the previous draft, Jabouri had said he stayed in the talks only at the coaxing of Middle Eastern diplomats.
    “Before now, I felt like I am losing. We are losing our power, we are losing our country, and I am like a foreigner living here,” Jabouri said. “Now everything has changed. This constitution, I think any Arab Sunni can support it.”
    “I believe the key part of the Sunni community will come on board,” said another senior Iraqi official close to the talks. “We have come very far at the very last minute.”
    The deal was achieved largely because of what U.S. officials have called “tweaking” encouraged by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
    “Until now, none of the normal people know that this has happened,” said Jabouri, the Sunni negotiator. “I will announce my support on my satellite channel, and we will make sure people find out. I can say proudly that no more than 20 percent of Salahuddin province will say no, and 80 percent will say yes.”
    Salahuddin is one of at least three majority-Sunni provinces in Iraq. Defeating the constitution would take a no vote by two-thirds of voters in at least three of Iraq’s 18 provinces, and Sunnis in the west in particular have made clear in rallies, banners and statements that they intended to vote no.
    Now, “the only opponents should be the Zarqawi people,” Jabouri said, referring to followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the head of the insurgent group al Qaeda in Iraq. “They oppose everything. If they wrote the constitution, they would oppose it.”
    This could suck the air out of the insurgency like nothing we have ever seen.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “what changes made the difference”
    I would go with
    “Bathists will only be prosecuted if they committed crimes”

  • leaddog2 says:

    “Africa, Peter, Africa”,
    Desert Rat…. well Yes, but only if you are considering US involvement.
    However, Thailand and the Philippines are VERY TROUBLESOME now, with Thailand a real hotspot! We are NOT likely to be heavily involved there with large numbers of ground troops, at least for awhile. We will continue to support Singapore because of the oil shipping through the Straits, but even China will support us against the Islamist pirates there. I.E., there will be a much more intense Navy presence in that phase of this many generations’ long war.

  • Oded says:

    Sgt. York you do the name a disservice and I bet Gary Cooper is rolling in his grave. Do yourself and us a favor and try some additional research.
    Sistani, the most influential Shia Ayatolah is greatly mistrusting of Iranian influence as are many Shia. Iran after all fought a long and bloody war with Iraq and Iran was of no help to the Shia in Iraq under Saddam. Furthermore Sistani believes in religious leaders staying out of politics.
    Indeed the idea that Iraq is monolithic in its seperation of religious ideologies is quite simplistic as there is much intermarriage and divisions likely cut more along tribal lines than religious beliefs.
    There is also a significant segment of the population that believes in secularism. Polls show that the majority of Iraqis dont want governance based strictly on Sharia. While there are certainly those (Sadr) that may welcome an Iranian influence, the majority of Iraqis, be they Sunni, Kurd, or Shia, are leary of any Iranian influence.
    Although the current government may have an Iranian influence, it was not elected by the entire population and the ability to express the political will of the people wasnt well represented due to limited ability to expose the views of all political parties thru debate and media coverage. Sunnis in large measure did not vote.
    As a result the current government, which has received criticism and unfavorable reviews by many Iraqis, is not entirely representative of the will of the Iraqi people. The Democratic process is in its infancy but has made strides since the last election. The next election should hopefully see the majority of Sunnis voting and I expect a more representative and more secular government in place.
    There may remain an Iranian influence, but I would expect it to be increasingly diluted.
    ‘The reality is that the bulk of those attacking US forces in Iraq are Iraqis fighting the military occupation of their country and the continued killing of their families.’
    Who pray tell is killing their families? Its increasingly obvious to all who is doing the killing. While most Iraqis are likely unhappy with the ‘US Occupation’, they now know which side their bread is buttered on and they know they need us to continue the ‘occupation’. Yes there are those who are not AQ slugs, who may be former Baathists or controlled by former Baathists who are indeed fighting the ‘occupation’. But I am sure this is a thinly veiled effort to get the Sunnis leverage in the political battle ahead. The recent breakthrough in revision of the constitution will likely bring the Sunnis fully into the political process and disenfrachise part of the ‘insurgency’.
    So Yorkie, as they say, this dog wont hunt, the best he could do is shit on your lawn.

  • ctc says:

    I beleive Sistani is part of the Quietist sect. Quietistism (?) represents a mainstream Shiite tradition in which the clergy remains aloof from participation in routine politics but reserves for itself the role of an observer and critic of political and social events, speaking out only on special occasions of national and social crisis.

  • Building up the Iraqi Forces

    Yesterday MNSTC-I (“min-sticky”) announced that the Iraqi Forces had crossed a milestone. Iraqi security forces are now 200,000 strong.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram