Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed credit for the suicide attack and series of bombings that took place in Baghdad last week and killed scores of Iraqis.
The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s political front, claimed the Dec. 22 Baghdad bombings in a statement that was released on jihadist Internet forums yesterday. The statement was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. The claim was made just one day after a suicide attack on Dec. 25 outside the Interior Ministry killed seven policemen.
Over 60 Iraqis were killed and an additional 18 were wounded in more than a dozen attacks executed at security installations, markets, and schools in the capital on Dec. 22.
Al Qaeda in Iraq said the attacks were the latest in what they described as a “series of special invasions … to support the weak Sunnis in the prisons of the apostates and
to retaliate for the captives who were executed by the Safavid [Persian or Iranian] government.”
The term “Safavid government” refers to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, a Shia politician who is accused by al Qaeda in Iraq of being under Iran’s sphere of influence. Maliki has cracked down on Sunni politicians, and immediately after the withdrawal of US troops this month issued an an arrest warrant for Vice President Tariq Hashemi. The move has plunged Iraq into political crisis.
Al Qaeda in Iraq said the targets in the Dec. 22 attack in Baghdad were “accurately surveyed and explored,” and that the “operations were distributed between targeting security headquarters, military patrols and gatherings of the filthy ones of the al-Dajjal Army [Shia warlord Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army].”
The terror group said it “knows where and when to strike, and the mujahideen will never stand with their hands tied while the pernicious Iranian project showed its ugly face and what it wants with Sunnis in Iraq became obvious and exposed.”
Al Qaeda in Iraq briefly described the suicide attack that targeted a security headquarters in Karrada in Baghdad, and said that details of the other attacks that day would be “published later on.”
Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was degraded by years of Iraqi and US military operations, is taking advantage of the deepening political crisis and Sunni fears that Maliki is an Iranian agent to expand its base of support. Al Qaeda in Iraq has urged Sunnis, particularly members of the Awakening councils, which are made up of tribes and former insurgents, to abandon the government. The terror group has portrayed itself as the only legitimate protector of Sunnis in Iraq.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.