Ramadi police seize a truck rigged with explosives and chlorine cannisters
The truck cargo area reveals containers filled with chlorine and explosives. Picture courtesy of MNF-West PAO. Click to view.
Al Qaeda in Iraq is pressing forward with its dirty war in Anbar province. On March 23, police in Ramadi’s Jazeera district seize a truck filled with “five 1000-gallon barrels filled with chlorine and more than two tons of explosives,” according to Multinational Forces West. The truck was parked outside the Jazeera police station. “The police approached the truck for further investigation and detained the driver when they discovered the truck was rigged with explosives and the driver was attempting to detonate the vehicle.” The driver was captured and an Explosives Ordnance Demolition team destroyed the truck.
The driver will be interrogated in an attempt to break the al Qaeda network of chlorine bombers.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has escalated its suicide campaign to include attacks with chlorine gas, and Anbar province has been the focus of these attacks. This is the sixth chlorine suicide attack in the province since this mode of attack begun this winter.
On January 28, 16 were killed in the first such attack in Ramadi. On February 19, al Qaeda struck again in Ramadi, killing two members of the Iraqi security force and wounding 16. On March 17, al Qaeda hit with a three pronged attack in Ramadi, Fallujah and Amiriya. Two were killed and over 360 were poisoned in the aftermath of the attacks.
Al Qaeda also conducted two deadly chlorine attacks outside of Anbar province. On February 20, five were killed and 140 sickened after a chlorine attack in Baghdad. On February 21, a chlorine attack in Taji killed 9 and made 150 sick.
The U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces have been hunting for clues behind the chlorine attacks and are seeking to dismantle the networks behind them.
Two chlorine bomb factories were discovered in Karma and Fallujah by Coalition forces on February 21. Karma has increasingly become a hot spot in Anbar province. A Marine CH-46 was shot down with an al Qaeda anti-aircraft missile in Karma, and the follow on task force of U.S. Army engineers sent to secure the wreckage lost three soldiers in a sophisticated IED strike. On March 22, U.S. and Iraqi forces found a chlorine supply in a bomb factory in Baghdad.
Al Qaeda in Iraq, through its political mouthpiece the Islamic State of Iraq, has issued a denial of its involvement with chlorine suicide attacks. “The group calls accusations of their involvement in the attack part of an information campaign aimed at tarnishing the jihad of the Islamic State, and more broadly, the image of the ‘blessed global jihad,'” according to the SITE Institute. “The group asks how any ‘sane’ person can believe that the Islamic State is targeting its own people as so many move to join their military ranks.” The attempt to distance itself from such attacks is a clear indication the backlash they have received from using such devices, however this did not stop the latest attempt in Ramadi.
Al Qaeda has issued instructions and implored its operatives to use chemical weapons in the past.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.