ISIS remodels tactics; draws need for Iraq to overhaul security structure

Alwaght- According to the figures published in 2015 by the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism of the US Department of State the terrorist assaults in Iraq dropped from 3370 cases in 2014 to 2418 cases in 2015. This comes while ISIS terror group has taken responsibility for only 31 percent of the attacks in Iraq.

Although the responsibility for 69 of the other terror operations is not claimed by any group, the report of the US Department of State believes that the footprints of ISIS could be tracked to 99 percent of the attacks between 2014 and 2015.

With a consideration of the figures of the US Bureau, it could be understood that the number of the offensives that ISIS directly claimed responsibility for dropped from 959 cases in 2014 to 741 case in 2015, indicating a 23 percent decrease in terrorist actions.

On the other side, the quality of the ISIS operations shows that 85 percent of them are conducted using conventional bombings and blasts, 5 percent of them included assaults with arms as well as kidnapping, and 10 percent included suicide bombings. To put it another way, ISIS in 2014 conducted 95 suicide attacks in Iraq but this number plunged to 74 in 2015.

This comes while a look at the figures published by ISIS itself in the first six months of 2016 shows that the terrorist group carried out 589 suicide attacks of different kind during this six-month period, 359— or 61 percent— of them took place at the Iraqi territories.

These data show that ISIS has made an essential tactical moving towards conducting suicide attacks, and at the same time they saw a 4.85 rise in comparison to 2015.

This comes while the terrorist group’s suicide operations majorly focus on 4 implementation methods, considerably raising the tolls in targeted sites. The methods include use of trucks loaded with explosives, suicide belts,  dual-stage operations which include launching attacks by semi-heavy-guns-topped vehicles against the Iraqi forces’ defense lines and blowing them off in nearest possible point to them.

But what is significant in reaction to increased ISIS-conducted suicide attacks is the moves made by the central Iraqi government to thwart them. For example, following recent deadly attacks in Karrada District in Baghdad, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi dismissed Lieutenant General Abdul Amir al-Shammari, the commander of Baghdad Operations, as well as the intelligence chiefs of the capital on July 8.

At the same day, Minister of Interior Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban resigned from his post. The prime minister accepted the resignation. At the same time the demands for dismissal of military and security commanders who were incapable of providing Baghdad’s security are witnessing an increase. But it seems that there are a couple of points concerning the issue which need to be taken into account for future curbing of ISIS terror operations wave.

The change of military and security commanders following fatal Karrada operation started while Mohammad Rabee, the deputy head of Iraq parliament’s Security Commission said that on June 13, namely three weeks before Karrada attacks, the prime minister was informed through a report which had military commanders’ confirmation that Karrada District was on the line. However, the political rifts on ministry and post sharings have led to ignorance of this warning.

What Muhammad Rabee referred to is not a new issue. In fact, such warnings were given out on possible fall of Mosul to the terrorists when the former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in office. However, the central government argued that everything was under its control and so failed to take heed. Such a stance was later turned into a legal case against Nouri al-Maliki.

Aside from the current arguments on central government’s disregard of the warnings, it must be noted that some part of what is called negligence is actually a product of false trust into the country’s security structure. In other words, after return of the Ba’athists to the Iraqi security and military structures after June 2004, one of troubles of central government has been the infiltration. The infiltration has so far considerably helped establishment of ISIS network in Iraq and gave the terrorist group the ability to carry out precise operations.

The best example is launching the year-long operation codenamed “Breaking the Walls” from July 2012 to July 2013. The mission was done within four phases by launching 7681 operations of 15 different kinds. At that time, ISIS coordinated with authorities of Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons, managing to set free about 700 members of the terrorist group who were sentenced to death. It also succeeded in returning to the country the chaotic conditions, finally seizing control of Nineveh, Al Anbar, and Mosul provinces.

In general and due to some reasons like infiltration of ISIS to the country’s security institutions, the conditions of Baghdad’s security belt is shifting back to the post-Mosul capture situation in 2014. This comes while on September 7, 2015, after baselessly accusing Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades of kidnapping 18 Turkish workers in Iraq, Prime Minister al-Abadi ordered the army’s 52th Brigade to storm the headquarters of the Shiite militant group. This incident has resulted in start of a critical situation for the anti-terror Public Mobilization Forces (PMF).

Finally, the Iraqi prime minister as the country’s commander-in-chief evacuated the second defense line of Baghdad from PMF. He tasked the Federal Police and Counterterrorism Bureau forces with protection of the second defense line, and protection of the first defense line was given to the 8th Armoured Brigade as well as 6th and 7th Divisions of Iraqi army.

Therefore after these orders, the PMF moved behind the defense lines and were camped at the buildings of the Customs Administration, the used cars garages, the dairy products factory, and the former army camps in Abu Ghraib, Rezvanya, Yousefya, and Tarmiya districts successively in west, south, and north of Baghdad. They waited for orders of the commander-in-chief for possible deployment to the frontlines.

It appears that now return of PMF to the security belt of Baghdad and inside the capital is an efficient idea especially that the popular force holds earlier experiences in defense terms.

Although PMF’s presence in the capital was accompanied by some oppositions from different sides, due to being cleared of the charges of infiltration and also because the popular force is made up of motivated units, it seems that by using it Iraq could largely check the speed and degree of influence of ISIS’ operational units in the Shiite geography. According to a poll conducted after blasts at Sadr City and during the Fallujah recapture operation, 73 percent of the participants have insisted on participation of PMF in provision of security of Baghdad.

By Alwaght

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