The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s political front in the country, claimed credit for Monday’s coordinated attacks in six of Iraq’s 18 provinces that killed more than 100 Iraqis and wounded hundreds more.
The Islamic State of Iraq claimed the attacks in a statement that was distributed on jihadist internet forums and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. The claim is titled the “Statement Regarding the First Wave of the Operations of ‘Destroying the Walls,'” and was released by the ISI’s “Media Ministry.”
The ISI said the offensive was launched “in application of the directives of Sheikh Mujahid Abu Bakr al Baghdadi,” the terror group’s emir, who is also known as Abu Du’a. The US government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture and conviction. Only al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, at $25 million, has a higher bounty on his head. Baghdadi is now on par with Mullah Mohammed Omar, the head of the Taliban; Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba; and Yasin al Suri, a senior al Qaeda facilitator based in Iran; all have $10 million bounties.
Baghdadi had originally announced the offensive in an audiotape released on July 21, just two days before the attack; it was his first audiotape announcement since becoming emir in 2010.
“We give you glad tidings of the commencement of a new phase from the phases of our struggle, which we begin with a plan that we have dubbed, ‘Destroying the Gates.’ We remind you of your top priority, which is to release the Muslim prisoners everywhere, and making the pursuit, chase, and killing of their butchers from amongst the judges, detectives, and guard to be on top of the list,” Baghdadi said in the July 21 statement that was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
In today’s statement, the ISI said that its “War Ministry” organized the offensive and deliberately targeted the military, government agencies, and both Shia and Sunni groups that have opposed al Qaeda. The ISI’s War Ministry is run by Nasser al Din Allah Abu Suleiman.
“The War Ministry had its sons mobilized and launched the brigades of the mujahideen and their military and security groups in a blessed new invasion during the month of Ramadan, targeting the pressure points of the Safavid [Iranian] project and its tenets and its followers and supporters in this land,” according to SITE.
“The chosen targets were accurately distributed over governmental headquarters, security and military centers, and the lairs of Rafidah [Shi’ite] evil, heads of the Safavid [Iranian] government and its people, and its Sunni traitor lackeys [Awakening councils and Sunni political parties] who sold the religion, the honor and the land, and made the lands of the Muslims permissible along with their cities to the dirtiest people on the earth and the lowest of evils,” the statement continued.
Al Qaeda in Iraq and its Islamic State of Iraq have persisted despite the fact that its leadership cadre was decimated in the years leading up to the US withdrawal at the end of 2011. Abu Ayyub al Masri, the former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq and the ISI’s war minister, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the emir of the Islamic State of Iraq, were both killed in an operation outside of Tikrit on April 18, 2010. Other top leaders were also killed or captured prior to the end of 2011.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.