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.