The Roggio Report
The Baghdad Security Plan beefs up, AQI responds.
12:00 AM, Apr 2, 2007 • By BILL ROGGIO
The past week has seen some interesting developments as the Iraqi government and Coalition ramp up the Baghdad Security Plan. Al Qaeda in Iraq conducted three major mass casualty attacks nationwide. Nearly half of the U.S. forces devoted to the surge have now been deployed in Iraq as the Iraqi security forces and U.S. continue to assume control over the neighborhoods inside Baghdad and to reorganize the command structure in the belts around Baghdad.
Deaths in Iraq have increased by 15 percent from February to March as al Qaeda in Iraq adjusts its tactics to deal with the new security plan. The three major suicide attacks launched by al Qaeda last week account for much of the increase. Al Qaeda continues to work to reignite the sectarian violence that plagued Iraq after the destruction of the Al Askaria mosque in Samarra over one year ago. Al Qaeda's greatest weapon continues to be the mass-casualty attack--suicide truck and car bombs, and suicide bombers on foot.
Over the past week, al Qaeda in Iraq successfully attacked a Baghdad market, a Tal Afar market, and a cafe in Khalis. The three suicide bombings led to upwards of 300 killed and over 600 more wounded. All of the attacks targeted Iraqi Shia. Al Qaeda took direct responsibility for the Tal Afar strike. There is some disagreement over the casualty figures for that attack--the Iraq government put the number at 152 dead, but U.S. forces and the local Tal Afar government reported 83 deaths.
The most troubling and dangerous aspect of the Tal Afar attack was the backlash from the local population. Initial reports claimed the Tal Afar police force went on a wholesale killing spree, however later reports stated that 14 off-duty policemen cooperated with a larger force of local militia. Forty-seven Sunnis were killed in the reprisal attacks. The Iraqi Army moved in to restore security, and the policemen were arrested. Al Qaeda was able to succeed in provoking the reprisal in Tal Afar, but the silver lining is the response from the Iraqi Army and the government, which reacted quickly and independently to restore order.
While al Qaeda is murdering Shia to provide reprisal killings, it is also conducting a deadly campaign against its enemies in the Sunni community. Al Qaeda is attempting to destroy any resistance in the Sunni community to the Islamic State in Iraq. The recent split of the 1920 Revolution Brigades into pro- and anti-al Qaeda factions has led al Qaeda to step up its attacks on the leadership of the anti-al Qaeda factions of the Sunni insurgency and the tribes.
Part of this terror campaign against the Sunni community includes the use of chlorine gas in its suicide attacks. Al Qaeda launched yet another chlorine gas suicide attack, this time against the Government Center in the heart of the city of Fallujah. While U.S. and Iraqi security forces repelled the attack, the truck laden with chlorine was able to get inside the perimeter of the Fallujah Government Center and detonate. Fifteen were wounded in the blast and scores were poisoned by chlorine cloud. This is the eighth attempted chlorine suicide strike in Anbar province--six were successfully detonated against civilian and military targets while two trucks laden with chlorine gas and explosives were found and disarmed in Ramadi.