Al-Qaeda in Iraq inaugurates new campaign of attacks

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, top leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and its affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, announced in an audio message July 22 a new plan to free imprisoned militants, attack the Iraq's judiciary and retake lost territory. "We are setting off a new stage of our struggle, with the launch of a plan named 'Breaking the Walls,'" said the message, which urged the Sunni tribal leaders to send their men to join his movement. "On the occasion of the return of the Islamic State to the regions that we had evacuated from, I urge you to send your sons to join the mujahedeen to defend your religion and honor." He also threatened the US, saying "You will see them [al-Qaeda militants] at the heart of your country with God's willing, since our war against you has just started." (WSJRFE/RL, July 22)

The following day, a string of bomb attacks and shootings in Baghdad, Kirkuk and other cities killed at least 45 and left over 100 wounded. Many of the dead were members of the security forces, which appear to have been a prime target. Two car bombs struck near a government building in Sadr City, the poor Shi'ite district of Baghdad, and in a second Shi'ite district, Hussainiya. Six bombs went off near a housing complex in Taji, a mostly Sunni town north of Baghdad. (BBC NewsReuters, July 23)

Al-Baghdadi became the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq after Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (no relation) was killed with other top militants in an air and ground assault by a team of US and Iraqi forces in April 2010. (AP, July 22)

See our last posts on Iraq, the insurgency and the sectarian war.

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No, Obama didn't "end the war"

Jake Tapper on ABC's Political Punch notes a rather perverse irony: "President Obama's campaign today released a video praising the president for ending the war in Iraq. It turns out that today has proven to be the deadliest day of the year in that country." The video (online at the link) in fact uses that absurd phrase "ending the war in Iraq." More evidence of how Americans (meaning, in the inaccurate but universal usage north of the Rio Grande, US citizens) are stupefyingly self-centered. As in nearly all media commentary on the deepening crisis in Syria, it's all about us. As we pointed out at the time of the "withdrawal" (which wasn't even a complete withdrawal) Obama had no ability to "end the war" in Iraq—because the war was not primarily about "us" (meaning the US). Neither the left nor right nor center in the United States seem capable of grasping this.

Iraq: militants down chopper

Militants shot downed an Iraqi army helicopter on July 26 in clashes that killed at least 19, including 11 policemenaround Hadid, about 10 kilometers north of the Diyala provincial capital of Baqouba. (AP, July 26)

Iraq: Shi'ites targeted for terror —again

A good thing Obama "ended the war in Iraq," eh? From AFP, Oct. 23:

BAGHDAD — A car bomb and mortar attacks against predominantly Shiite neighbourhoods in north Baghdad killed at least eight people Tuesday, days before the Muslim holiday of Eid.

The attacks, which also wounded at least a dozen people and damaged nearby cars and houses, struck the Chikouk and Shuala neighbourhoods at around 6:45 am (0345 GMT), days after deadly violence targeted another mostly-Shiite district in the north of the capital.

Multiple mortars struck Chikouk while a car bomb detonated in Shuala, an interior ministry official said, putting the overall toll from the attacks at nine dead and 12 wounded...

Both neighbourhoods struck are majority Shiite, while Chikouk is home to a camp for internally displaced persons, mostly Shiite Muslims who fled largely Sunni areas during the worst of Iraq's confessional violence in 2006 and 2007.

The attacks come after 12 people were killed in nationwide violence on Saturday, with the deadliest incidents then also targeting a Shiite area of north Baghdad.

The latest violence comes ahead of Friday's Eid al-Adha holiday. The days leading up to the annual holiday are often marked by a spike in violence.

Killings and assault are down sharply across Iraq from their peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks are still common, especially in Baghdad and Mosul. At least 250 people have been killed as a result of unrest in each of the past four months.

Eid terror in Iraq

An apparenty coordinated wave of 20 bomb attacks on mostly civilian targets hit several cities in Iraq Nov. 13, amid the Eid al-Adha holiday. In Kirkuk, nine were killed and 31 wounded by three car bombs targeting the headquarters of Kurdish and Turkmen political parties. A  car bomb exploded inside a busy market in Hilla, killing 7 people and wounding 33, while a device planted near a primary school for girls wounded 11 students. The last similar daily toll was on Nov. 6, when a bomb killed more than two dozen people at a military base in Taji. (NYT, Nov. 14)

A car bomb exploded near a Shi'ite mosque at Mahaweel south of Baghdad, killing two worshippers, on Oct. 26. (AP) At least 14 people were killed and 52 others were wounded in two car bombs and a roadside bomb in two separate locations in eastern Baghdad's Sadr City the following day. Also that day, five Shiite pilgrims were killed when a roadside bomb in Taji, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baghdad, struck a minibus carrying them to visit Al-Askariya, or the Golden Mosque of Samarra. (CNN)

Iraq: Shi'ites targeted for terror —again

 Two roadside bombs and a car bomb targeting Shiites in areas south of Baghdad killed 23 people and wounded 84 on Nov. 29, security and medical officials said.

In the city of Hilla, two roadside bombs targeted a group of Shiite pilgrims, killing 18 people and wounding 71 others, officials said, raising a previous toll, while a car bomb in the shrine city of Karbala killed five people and wounded 13. (Middle East Online, Nov, 29)