Al Qaeda ramps up attacks in Iraq

As the world focuses on the Syrian civil war, the use of chemical weapons, and the rise of al Qaeda and Islamist groups, the resurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, is going largely unnoticed. Violence in Iraq has spiked this year, with a wave of suicide bombings, car bombings, and armed attacks. As al Qaeda focuses energy on Syria, it certainly hasn’t left Iraq behind.

Al Qaeda clearly has the resources to carry out attacks such as today’s, in which five suicide bombers and a multitude of car bombs were used. One attack included a suicide assault team against a police special forces base in Bayji. The al Qaeda fighters entered the perimeter of the base before being gunned down. From Russia Today:

The first bomb exploded next to a tent full of mourners in the Shiite neighborhood. Shortly after, a suicide bomber detonated his device while driving a car near the funeral-goers. A third bomb exploded as police and ambulances arrived at the scene.

“Crowds of people were visiting the tent to offer their condolences when suddenly a powerful blast…threw me to ground,” said 35-year-old Basim Raheem.

“When I tried to get up, a second blast happened. My clothes were covered with blood and human flesh. I thought I was wounded, but later discovered I was lying in a pool of others’ blood,” he added.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Baghdad, in which at least 65 people were killed and 120 others wounded, medics said.

However, the majority of the region’s attacks are carried out by Sunni insurgents with links to Al-Qaeda, who say the Shiite government is discriminating against the country’s Sunni minority.

In a separate incident, at least eight people were killed and 12 others wounded when a car bomb exploded in the predominantly Shiite Ur district of the capital, police said.

Four suicide bombers attacked a police special forces base, killing seven and injuring more than 20 security officials in the northern city of Baiji. Police shot one of the militants, although the others managed to enter the base and blow themselves up.

Sadly, attacks such as today’s in Iraq have become commonplace, and the country is dangerously close to slipping back to 2006-2007 levels of violence, when the al Qaeda-led insurgency was at its peak. Deadly bombings and suicide attacks against civilians and at markets and mosques are now an everyday occurrence.

The impact of the US’ inability to negotiate a deal with the Iraqi government to leave behind intelligence, logistics, special operations forces, and air support to continue to assist the Iraqi military post-2011 is now being felt in full. The failure to pursue al Qaeda in Iraq allowed the group to regenerate and launch deadly insurgencies in both Iraq and Syria.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Tags: , , ,


  • Recondo says:

    Good Killings. Sunni vs Shia violence is always good for the rest of humanity

  • Knighthawk says:

    That last paragraph pretty much says it all.

  • Joel wing says:

    You’re overplaying the US military withdrawal as the cause of AQI’s resurgence. The US pullout did lead to the Iraqi security forces to return to their traditional security methods of mass arrests, group punishments, etc. which happen to mimic Us tactics before the Surge. That has had a very negative impact upon the public and caused a lot of resentment, not to mention been completely I capable of stopping attacks because it’s reactive. On the other hand one major reason for AQI’s return is the release of thousands of prisoners that the Us help. No residual force would have been big enough to hold that many so they would have been let out not matter what. Most importantly violence is directly connected to politics and the reason why all the insurgent groups are having a revival in Iraq is the failure of the government to work and incorporate all the different parties. In 2009 there was a dramatic drop in violence as Sunnis and many insurgent groups decided to vote that year for provincial councils. They felt like they were finally having a voice in the government. Those gains have been lost due to bad politics and the resulting attacks are a direct product of that.

  • blert says:

    Sunni fanaticism in the recent past has always resulted in Shi’ite reprisals.
    At this time they control the government and the army — and the US Army is no longer there to restrain them.
    Given enough time and pressure the remaining Sunnis outside the Sunni heart lands will flee.
    Funding is what is driving the ISIL. It’s the reason for their internal spat, too.
    Monies raised to fight Assad in Syria are simply being diverted over to Iraq. The intent is to erase the Syrian-Iraqi border.
    By disrupting the Iraqi Army — particularly out in al Anbar — the stage is set for ISIL to run a rump government straddling the border. Al Anbar is extremely attractive because Iraq has no functional air force, while Assad’s is crippled and range restricted — and striking across the border would be politically toxic.
    It is now become very apparent that the FSA has been supplying Western arms to the fanatics — typically by joining their legions!
    Taken all together, the current American administration has entirely re-enabled AQ financially and logistically.
    AQ has always had KSA in its cross hairs.

  • John.Frank says:

    A terrible tragedy is now taking place in Iraq.
    One can make a strong case that the Iranians have much blood on their hands, being instrumental in driving out the American military, while supporting the present government, which has proven to be incompetent in handling matters.

    The Shadow Commander

    As to the ongoing sectarian violence, while it is easy to sit back and say let them kill each other, the reality is that Islam Needs an Intervention.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram