Al Qaeda in Iraq executes 27 policemen in Anbar

Al Qaeda in Iraq fighters disguised as Iraqi security personnel disarmed and executed 27 Iraqi policemen in the towns of Haditha and Barwanah in Anbar province. The attacks were well planned and executed (the attackers were dressed in police uniforms and drove police vehicles, and even used fake warrants), and indicate a degree of infiltration in the security forces. From Reuters:

A police source, who had been ferrying victims to the hospital morgue, said gunmen dressed in uniforms of the security forces had driven from checkpoint to checkpoint slaughtering police in Haditha, a town 190 km (120 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

“The gunmen used security vehicles and from 2:00 a.m. (2300 GMT) until 3:30 a.m. they carried out attacks on checkpoints in central Haditha and the nearby town of Barwana,” the police source, who did not give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media, told Reuters in Fallujah.

Fathi, the governor’s spokesman, said the attackers arrived at checkpoints with fake arrest warrants, confiscated the mobile phones of the police guards and executed them.

Another police source said one of the damaged vehicles left behind had fliers signed by an al Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, which threatened Iraqi police forces with death if they did not abandon their jobs.

The 27 dead included a lieutenant colonel and a captain who were dragged out of their homes in Haditha and killed, the police source said. A curfew was imposed on the town and its exits were sealed off.

The targeting of policemen in Haditha and Barwanah, two Sunni-dominated towns (Haditha once served as a headquarters for Abu Musab al Zarqawi), by fighters disguised as policemen is a clever move by al Qaeda in Iraq that was likely designed to stir up Sunni-Shia tensions. Iraq’s National Police force is widely considered a Shia-dominated institution. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s spokesman recently indicated that the terror group is seeking to revive sectarian tensions (note: this has been obvious for some time, given AQI’s selection of targets for attacks).

Al Qaeda has now executed seven mass-casualty attacks since the turn of the year, when the US military fully withdrew its forces from the country [see Threat Matrix report, Wave of bombings across Iraq kills 60]. In the last such attack, which took place on Feb. 23, more than 60 Iraqis were killed in coordinated attacks nationwide.

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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  • mike merlo says:

    I wonder how long before the Iraqi’s ‘quietly’ ask for US assistance?

  • Eddie D. says:

    @ Mike, I hope we will tell them NO in our politest voices possible but if they don’t understand we should say, HELLLLL NO!

  • Neonmeat says:

    I am sure there are various NATO Spec Ops teams already in Iraq. They just will not advertise it, just like they are already in Somalia, and Yemen and have been for some time.
    I believe this is the way the war against AQ and its ilk should be fought. In foreign lands let local Native Troops fight them and deal with the native population on a day to day basis and have our Spec Ops teams decimate their Logistical and Leadership capabilities through night raids and drone strikes in an unrelenting manner.
    Of course for this to work we need a capable and effective native Fighting Force in place. I’m not sure about Iraq but I hope we will have created one in afghanistan by the time we leave.


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