35 killed in attacks against civilians in Baghdad

The Baghdad area was hit with the third major attack in four days as bombs were detonated in residential areas of the capital, killing 35 Iraqis and wounding scores more.

Terrorists planted bombs inside homes and apartment complexes in the Baghdad neighborhoods of Al Shula, Jakook, Allawi, Al Shurta Al Khamisa, and Al Aamel, Voices of Iraq reported. Most of the blasts took place in predominately Shia neighborhoods, although Allawi is a mixed Sunni and Shia neighborhood.

At least seven blasts were reported, while bomb disposal teams defused two devices. Thirty-five Iraqis have been killed and more than 140 have been wounded, an anonymous Interior Ministry official told Voices of Iraq. The toll may rise, as more casualties are feared to be trapped in the rubble.

Today’s attacks follow the coordinated attacks on embassies in Baghdad on April 4 and a raid on a village in Baghdad province on April 3. The April 4 suicide attacks against the Egyptian, Iranian, Spanish, and German embassies killed 41 people and wounded more than 250. The April 3 raid, which took place in the Arab Jabour region just south of Baghdad, was carried out by terrorists dressed in Iraqi uniforms. In that attack, 25 persons, including anti-al Qaeda Awakening fighters, soldiers, and civilians, were bound and executed.

While no group has taken responsibility for the attacks, al Qaeda in Iraq is strongly suspected to have carried out the bombings in Baghdad and the executions in Arab Jabour. Al Qaeda in Iraq has conducted similar attacks in the past in an attempt to stoke sectarian violence between minority Sunnis and majority Shia.

Al Qaeda in Iraq’s founder, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who was killed in a US strike in June 2007, had insisted that al Qaeda’s best chance at destroying the Iraqi government and imposing an Islamic state was to fan the sectarian flames. Zarqawi made the argument to al Qaeda’s central leadership that the Shia must be viciously targeted, even if it meant a full blown war against the Shia.

“I come back and again say that the only solution is for us to strike the religious, military and other cadres among the Shia with blow after blow until they bend to the Sunnis,” Zarqawi said in a letter to Osama bin Laden. The letter was written by Zarqawi in 2004 and intercepted by US intelligence.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has been at the vanguard of sectarian attacks against both Sunni and Shia, and almost succeeded in plunging Iraqi into a civil war in 2006.

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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22 Comments

  • ArneFufkin says:

    It’s hard to fathom any strategic political advantage the insurgents get from these civilian assaults. It’s easy to conclude that they are perverts and psychopaths who just like to kill and destroy.

  • ECH says:

    ArneFufkin, if you check the Iraqi message boards even the ones that know English and were educated in the West it feels like 2006 again where they are blaming the attacks on rival political parties instead of al-Qaeda.
    These attacks caused by a small number of people can destabilize the entire Iraqi state as it nearly did in 2006. Many in the military and the Pentagon passed off attacks like this as simply hurting al-Qaeda, but sadly Zarqawi figured out the one way that he could turn Iraqi into a killing field and that is to get different ethnic and religious groups to think the other is attacking them and to respond in kind.
    I saw the U.S. Ambassador in Iraq on Fox last night dismiss these attacks as well basically saying they would only hurt al-Qaeda.
    The problem is al-Qaeda isn’t trying to win hearts and minds, it is trying to turn Iraqi against each other and this is the perfect time to do it when the parties in Iraq are fighting tooth and nail over who controls the government.
    The Zarqawi strategy is evil, but it very well can work as we saw in 2006. Personally I think the Maliki government blundered badly in forcing our troops onto our bases too early. Right now there is only very limited things the U.S. can do unless Maliki asks for help.

  • TLA says:

    No, no strategy involved, it’s their tribal instincts. They do not like each other (and some).

  • kp says:

    In fact it’s difficult to fathom the strategy that seems to have all the smarts of the Underpants Gnomes business plan:

    1. 1. Start civil war
    2. 2. ???
    3. 3. Profit

    I can’t see starting a civil war against 80% of the population and then seeing AQI “win”. What do they plan to do? Kill all the Shia? With a predominately Shia Iraqi army just standing by? With Shia Iran next door? Are they looking for partition of Iraq (in which case they would get the oil-free bits and the Kurds get Mosul)? To become the Serbia of the Middle East? I really don’t get it.

    Unless they have no other ideas. Now that’s possible. It didn’t work in 2005-2007 but it will work now when they have a much smaller network?

  • ECH says:

    Their plan is to cause a civil war in Iraq which the Sunni Arab states in the region who fear Iran get involved causing a pan Islamic civil war. ]
    That isn’t going to happen even if they did manage to spark a sectarian war in Iraq. If it does happen the Sunni Arab community in Iraq would be wiped out… not that al-Qaeda cares.

  • Zeissa says:

    Seriously ArneFufkin, use your brain.
    Is it that necessary for you to hide from the fact that logical people can become terrorists without being perverts and psychopaths. You feel an inherent need to demonize the enemy so that we can’t see their face?
    Their problem is Islam, moderate and right-wing Islam.
    Our enemies are human and it is irrelevant, for they are our enemies, they are evil in their faith, and their blood must be spilt on the ground.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    I don’t think they have any hope of succeeding. The “Mahdi Army” is a ghost of what it used to be and no longer owns the city at night. At this point it seems like AQI/ISI wants to make its presence felt until US troops leave.
    Also, Zarqawi was killed in June 2006 rather than June 2007.

  • KW64 says:

    I would think the Iraqi people would catch on this time that Al Queda is exploiting a governmental crisis by false flag attacks. If not shame on them.

  • James says:

    My question is: Who are the attackers?
    As the saying goes, all it takes is one match strategically put to destroy the beauty of a forest.
    The legit Iraqis need to distinguish, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. I’ve said this long ago, they need to take some kind of a detailed census of both people and places, to the best that can be done.
    Maybe a color code could be assigned; green for verified good, red for known bad, and yellow for caution, assigned to each Iraqi and dwelling or business place.
    IMHO, terrorists are lower than the gestapo and they should have no rights. They dress up like sheep to slaughter innocent civilians.
    Their actions are akin to what the Nazis tried to do during the Battle of the Bulge and in that case summary executions were wholly lawful according to international law.

  • Lorenz Gude says:

    I’d agree that the strategy is to cause sectarian strife while the leadership is trying to form a government. I also think that in the long run al Q is teaching its Muslim brothers that they are Godless murderers who need to be executed. In the short term I think they may succeed in causing some trouble but this looks like “Civil War in Iraq – the Sequel” and sequels are seldom as good as the original. Maliki and the Iraqi Army are not without resources as we can see by the fact that two bombs were disarmed. I don’t know what an Iraqi intelligence officer would do but I find it hard to believe it wouldn’t involve lots of road blocks and some robust interrogation.

  • madashell59 says:

    Don’t you find it odd that no one was injured at the Iranian embassy? Remember for the terrorists deceit and lying along with killing your own is ok as long as it is for the good of Allah. Get rid of Iran (it’s leaders) and you cut the head off of the beast called “Islamic Extremism”
    It is time for the Iraqi’s to fight harder. Do they want to be a democracy then they must turn in whom ever and report suspicious activity without fear. Iraq’s must remember that they are not under a Saddam Hussein dictatorship anymore they are govenred by a living and breathing new born democracy that is growing to maturity while fighting for human rights within your Holy country.

  • John Abraham says:

    Lorenz,
    They are anything but Godless.
    Actually OBL and Co has used the concept of Takfir under which they can declare anyone accepting “infidel” control as kafir and thus are legitimate victims.
    Refer to wikipedia article on Takfir.
    Also refer to Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright.
    Hadith may restrain the use of such concept but Muslims themselves on many occasions reject the authenticity of Hadith as divine.

  • Dead G.I. says:

    I was in the Alaskan Stryker Brigade during the surge on baghdad and the height of the sectarian violence. Witnessing these events first hand gave me a very clear view of the sub-level of existance these “people” live in.
    The sunni militants will detonate a bomb in a busy shia marketplace killing dozens of non combatants. In retaliation the shia militants(usually corrupt police) would round up handfulls of sunni non-combatants and execute them and dump them in the streets.
    Never once in my time there did i ever see or hear about any militant on militant altercations. They simply killed innocent people of the other sect. That is cowardice with no equal, and shines a spotlight of realization and understanding for us if you have your eyes open enough to see it.
    These are not people like “average joe” back in the states would like to believe. This is not the “beautiful and loving culture” portrait National Geograghic paints for us. There is a ruthlessness and lack of regard for the importance of human life. Death is a part of every day life for them. Its dumped in the black rivers of their own excrement on every street of the nation for their children to see. So it perpetuates.
    I am not saying these people are wrong in their existance. They are simply people, and where they are is how they are.
    I just wish the west could understand that. You can’t give a pack of dogs democracy. The fate of the pack depends on the dog that is ruthless enough and strong enough to obtain power and instill order and respect through fear and constant lashing outs. Sadaam was that dog.

  • T Ruth says:

    Dead G.I., Thanks for your very alive remarks.
    They are a contrast to much of the Ivory Tower perspectives one comes across. Moreover they present reality as it is and not as the West would like it to be.
    101 dalmations dead in a week and three times that wounded is certainly not a testimony of success of this US adventure. Nor is it an affirmation that the super-imposed democracy is taking root and therefore that it can be called a fortuitious experiment.
    To the contrary the flames of extremist Islam (of which Saddam was not a proponent), have been stoked and is burning the veneer of democracy.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    zeissa, you need a few lessons in coridality. I generally do not find many … if any … of your contributions here to be of any value whatsoever but I try to keep the personal attacks at a minimum. And, yes, those who would intentionally target women and children for ambush murder in a strategy that I consider politically impotent ARE perverts and psychopaths in every way I understand the words.

  • mike says:

    Al-Qaida is as stupid and incompetent as it is evil. To win an insurgency you must win the hearts and minds of the people. They are doing the exact opposite. This is how they lost al-Anbar in 2005-2006 and the same strategy was a massive failure in 2007.
    Insanity is trying the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

  • Mr T says:

    Murder & intimidation does work, especially in the context of the people living there. Al Qaeda controlled large regions of the country. They still control some parts of Iraq. AQAM control large areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Chechyna, Somalia, Yemen, etc.
    They control these regions by murder and intimidation. Brute force. The people living there must submit AND they have an ideological affynity for their cause. They have been taught Islam their whole life as something more than just a religion but a way of life. Even if it is a different sect of Islam, most would rather submit than die.
    We in the west can not engage in that level of brutality and they know it and use it to their advantage. That’s why its a long war.

  • Cordell says:

    Dead G.I.:
    While I greatly appreciate your service to our country and respect your first-hand insights, I do not share your cynicism towards the majority of the Iraqi people. Like most people anywhere, the vast majority simply wish to live in peace and work towards giving their children a better life. The 63% voter turnout in the recent election and over 75%+ earlier, despite real threats upon voters’ lives, reflects this broad Iraqi support for democracy. Moreover, the most secular parties garnered the vast majority of the votes. Sadr’s ~39 parliamentary seats were largely won through better organization and strategic voting.
    During the 2006 – 2007 civil war there, Iraqis turned to such extremists as Sadr’s Mahdi Army and various Sunni militias for the security that their government could not provide at the time. Thanks to your efforts and that of tens of thousands more like you in the U.S. military, Iraq now has a nascent democracy, moderate stability and relatively impartial government security forces that can provide security to a population that has lived in fear the last three decades. They may be easily cowed by force and terrorism, but their basic support for the Western democratic model remains unshaken.
    AQI’s weakness is its only strength: they are so unpopular that they have nothing to lose by committing acts of terrorism and hoping that each side of the former civil war blames the other — directly or indirectly — for these terrible and tragic events. No doubt, Iran and Syria are supporting AQI’s efforts here; a successful Iraqi democracy on their border, seen first-hand by Iranian and Syrian pilgrims, threatens and undermines their military dictatorships. Hopefully, Allawi, Maliki and the leaders of the other Iraqi parties will appear on Iraqi TV together and denounce these acts of terrorism as the work of AQI, Iran and Syria, thereby defusing political tensions and turning Iraqi anger toward the terrorist groups and countries actually responsible.

  • Bungo says:

    “Al-Qaida is as stupid and incompetent as it is evil” Very true Mike. AQ will never achieve any of it’s goals. Their strategic model is irreparably flawed. They are a collection of crazies, psycopaths and thugs (Zarkawi being a prime example) The only way they can gain any geo-political clout is as the “crazy suicider” platoon of the Taliban.

  • miau says:

    This is evil! They are attacking civilians now. They are innocent. When there are no one to attack, they attack themselves. Barbarians!

  • LTC Chris Farrell, USA says:

    Like “Dead G.I.,” I, too, was in Iraq at the height of Sunni-Shi’ite ethno-sectarian violence . . . arrived in-country during Jan 06 and back to the States in 2007 – after tours in Baghdad and Anbar Province with the counter-IED cell supporting the “Fighting 6th Marines”

  • LTC Chris Farrell, USA says:

    Like “Dead G.I.,” I, too, was in Iraq at the height of Sunni-Shi’ite ethno-sectarian violence . . . arrived in-country during Jan 06 and back to the States in 2007 – after tours in Baghdad and Anbar Province with the counter-IED cell supporting the “Fighting 6th Marines”

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