Iraqi al-Qaeda Affiliate Islamic State of Iraq Increases Attacks Across Iraq
|Publication Date||27 February 2013|
|Citation / Document Symbol||Militant Leadership Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 2|
|Cite as||Jamestown Foundation, Iraqi al-Qaeda Affiliate Islamic State of Iraq Increases Attacks Across Iraq, 27 February 2013, Militant Leadership Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 2, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5134a3d72.html [accessed 18 May 2013]|
|Comments||Nicholas A. Heras|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The Iraqi al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) has maintained a steady rate of attacks over the last few months. On January 3, ISI executed attacks against Shi'a Muslim pilgrims in and around Baghdad. The worshippers were commemorating arba'een rituals in honor of the death of the Imam Hussein at Karbala. A suicide car bomber attacked a procession of Shi'a Muslim worshippers at a bus station in the town of Musayyib in the central Babil Province south of Iraq, killing 27 people and wounding 60 (Reuters Arabic, January 3). On the same day, a separate roadside bomb attack in Baghdad against a minibus carrying Shi'a worshippers killed 4 people and wounded 15 (al-Ahraam, January 3).
Shi'a worshippers were also targeted by ISI in February. On February 8, a series of suicide attacks against Shi'a areas of Baghdad, the city of Hilla south of Baghdad as well as in and around the southern Iraqi city of Karbala killed 34 people and wounded over 100 (Shi'a Post, February 9). Later in the month a series of coordinated suicide bombings killed over 35 people in the several Shi'a-majority districts of Baghdad (Shiite News, February 19).
A suicide attack targeting Ifan Saadoun al-Issawi, an important Sunni MP from Anbar Province and a prominent member of the anti-ISI Sunni-majority Sahwa (Awakening) Movement, killed al-Issawi and six of his companions (al-Iraqi, January 15). A statement made by ISI a few days after the assassination of Ifan al-Issawi congratulated his killer and accused al-Issawi of being an American "dog," an unbeliever, and a tool of Safavid (Iranian) aggression against Sunnis (Ansar al-Mujahideen Network, January 18).
The restive and diverse Kirkuk region has seen several attacks, although it is yet to be determined if the attacks were carried out by the ISI or local Salafist groups from the area. On January 16, in Kirkuk, a suicide car bomb attack directed against the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP) headquarters in a crowded area of Kirkuk killed more than 20 people and wounded 180 (Kurdiu.net, January 16). On the same day, another suicide attack directed against an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the nearby town of Tuz Khurmato killed 3 people and wounded 15 (Kuwait News Agency, January 16). The following week in Tuz Khurmato a suicide bomber struck a funeral at a Shi'a mosque, killing 42 people and wounding 75 (Turkmenli TV, January 24).
The ISI is seeking to utilize widespread Sunni Muslim political dissatisfaction against the Shi'a and Kurdish dominated central Iraqi government led by Nouri al-Maliki to foment sectarian strife in the country. A statement released by the ISI's spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani exhorted Iraqi Sunnis to take up weapons against "apostates," or Iraq's Shi'a community, the al-Maliki led government and Sunnis opposed to the ISI (al-Jahad, January 30). The ISI further accuses the Iraqi government of committing "atrocities" including property seizure, raids and arrests, torture and displacement of Sunnis (Reuters Arabic, February 18).