Terrorism and Counterterrorism Activities in Iraq

A wave of bombings in Sadr City; al Qaeda operatives arrested, some claims are a bit optimistic to say the least

A series of six bombs were detonated at markets throughout Sadr City in Baghdad, the stronghold of Muqtada al-Sadr. The attacks killed over 46 and wounded over 200. The profile of the attack matches that of an al Qaeda operation – coordinated suicide bombings aimed at soft targets designed to stir up sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites. One of the suicide bombers is described as “African.” African al Qaeda make up a significant number of al Qaeda in Iraq’s foreign fighters, with about 25% of those captured and 10% killed being identified as African fighters.

C.S. Scott of The Security Watchtower’s postulates that Sadr may have colluded with al Qaeda to conduct the attacks, as security in Sadr City recently transferred to the Iraqi Army’s 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Division. This can be a power play to discredit the Iraqi Army and allow Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia to play a larger role in the security of the city. If the attack was al Qaeda only driven and designed to bring the Mahdi Army to the streets, Sadr has not taken the bait as he declined to deploy his militia; “I could order the Mahdi Army to root out the terrorists and fundamentalists but this would lead us into civil war and we don’t want that.”

After the attack, Iraqi President Talabani warns of the threat of civil war, and urges the Iraqi politicians to push the political process forward, and resolve the issues preventing the formation of a unity government. As the Iraqi politicians continue to haggle over the formation of the government, the terrorists and insurgents will only be emboldened to strike in order to create further divisions and distrust.

The terrorists have not been able to attack without consequence. The much maligned Iraqi police have arrested suspects in the murder of the station manager of Iraqiya television and his driver. The Mujahedeen Shura Council took credit for the killings; “We consider this channel a mouthpiece for the government… which was always eager to broadcast lies about jihad (holy war) and the Mujahedeen in order to please the Crusaders (US forces).”

The newly formed Anbar Revenge Brigade, which is made up of the various tribes of Anbar province who wish to hunt down al Qaeda in Iraq, claimed to have killed four leaders of al Qaeda and a leader of Ansar al-Sunnah. Last week, Sheikh Usama al-Jadaan, a Karabila tribal leader made yet another extraordinary claim, that “tribesmen had captured 1,700 terrorists of Syrian, Jordanian, Yemeni and Algerian nationalities.” This trumps the previous fantastic claim of 270 al Qaeda rounded up several weeks ago.

As with the last report, the claim of such a large number of al Qaeda rounded should be viewed with skepticism as this has not been confirmed by Coalition forces in the region. The Marines and soldiers stationed in Anbar province would be witness to these actions, and the likely fallout from such a struggle, as al Qaeda jihadis would not meekly submit to being captured on such a large scale. And then there is the logistical problem: where are these terrorists being jailed? But, it should not be overlooked that the tribes in western Anbar are eager to curry favor with the Iraqi government, and are willing to go on the record and oppose al Qaeda.

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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10 Comments

  • Marlin says:

    I was heartened by the joint agreement between the Iraqi Interior and Defense ministries announced today in which they pledged to conduct all raids jointly, in a bid to stop the operations of alleged death squads masquerading as police commandos.
    —————-
    The agreement the two ministers signed on Sunday further requires them to share intelligence that could lead to any raid before reaching a joint decision to conduct the operation.
    “We are facing a very tough security situation that requires this kind of joint cooperation against the devils that want Iraqis to fight each other,” Jabr said.
    AP: Iraqi Officials Try to Stop Death Squads

  • Mike E says:

    Given the saddamist and al Qaida pattern of stirring sectarian tension, the so called “police commando death squads” are probably Sunnis, dressed as Shia security forces, killing Sunnis. Just a thought.

  • ECH says:

    Mike E,
    The pro-Iranian losers like Sadr are just as bad as the Baathists when it comes to death squads.

  • hamidreza says:

    It is doubtful that Sadr would encourage bombing of his own people in Sadr city. He has killed rival clerics – but not his own supporters.
    These 2 carbombs and 4 mortar attacks points to Iranians again, acting through surrogates Mujaheddin Shura Council and al-Qaeda. Sadr is pro-Iranian, but for tactical reasons, and is close to only some of the Iranian factions – not all. This gives a warning by Iranians to Sadr to speed up the civil war and to unleash his Mahdi militia.
    The Iranians want a takeover of the Iraqi state by Shiite militia (Mahdi, Badr, Hezbolla, Fazila, Interior Ministry). For that to happen, chaos and civil war must be in place. Sadr is somewhat hesitant because he has ties to some Islamist Sunnis and historically he has not been beholden to Iran. Sadr wants a militia takeover, but he senses that his goals are somewhat divergent from the Iranians. Sadr wants to rule Iraq, but Iran wants the Shiite rulers of Iraq to be beholden and depend on Iran.
    Chaos and civil war in Iraq suits the Iranians just fine. It will distract attention away from demands for democracy and freedom in Iran, and keep Iran internally in perpetual crisis mode.

  • Marlin says:

    Speaking of Iran, President Bush addressed their nefarious activities in his speech today.
    —————-
    Some of the most powerful IEDs we’re seeing in Iraq today includes components that came from Iran. Our Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, told the Congress, “Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti-coalition attacks by providing Shia militia with the capability to build improvised explosive devises” in Iraq. Coalition forces have seized IEDs and components that were clearly produced in Iran. Such actions — along with Iran’s support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons — are increasingly isolating Iran, and America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.
    President Discusses Freedom and Democracy in Iraq

  • Terrorism and Counterterrorism Activities in Iraq

  • hamidreza says:

    Thus these IEDs are more evidence that Iranian hardliners (but not all Iranian ruling factions) wish to destabilize Iraq. If US stays in a chaotic and sectarian Iraq, then that is a bogeyman to hold internal Iranian dissenters in line. If US leaves, then that is a military victory and grounds for a Shiite and Iranian takeover of Iraqi state.
    The worst scenario for the Iranian hardliners is to see a peaceful Iraq, with democracy at work producing results, with a free press that will criticize Iran and its agents, and with Sistani in charge of the religious domain.
    With the close ties of Kurdish-Arab Ansar al Islam and Zarqawi with Iran (Zarqawi was inside Iran or within 100 yards of the border between 2001 and 2003) – it should be clear that there is a lot for Iranian hardliners to gain by arming and financing al-Qaeda.
    The theory that Iranian Shiites will not attack Iraqi Shiites to foment civil war is wrong. Iraqi Shiites fought off Iranian Shiites in an 8 year war with 1 million killed on both sides. Iranian Shiites are Persians, while Iraqi Shiites are Arabs. Iranian ruling Shiites do not follow the same religious hierarchy as the Iraqi Shiites do. And regime survivability for the Iranian ruling class is much more paramount than religious sympathies, which really only applies to the masses.
    The Iranian Islamists torched a theater in 1978 in southern Iran that killed 350 Iranians, and blamed that on the Shah. Blowing up Iraqi Shiites to foment civil war is not beyond them, and according to the apocalypse theory of Ahmadinejad, is legitimate.

  • hamidreza says:

    Nice video of US soldiers in Tal Afar (by CBS 60 mins !!)
    //michellemalkin.com/archives/004748.htm

  • al-Qaeda fails in civil war bid once again

    They keep trying, but so far the Iraqis aren’t taking the bait: Baghdad Stays Calm Despite Revenge Deaths As always, Bill Roggio over at the Fourth Rail has all the details and fills in the gaps that the MSM like…

  • “Nice video of US soldiers in Tal Afar (by CBS 60 mins !!)”
    In other news, CBS 60 minutes announced the retirement of Mike “Walk’m into an ambush for the story” Wallace.

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