SELECTIVE IRAQI MUSLIM MURDER
Baghdad bombing kills at least 200; ISIS claims responsibility
By Mohammed Tawfeeq, Joe Sterling and Susanna Capelouto, CNN
July 4, 2016
The death toll from Saturday's suicide bombing in Baghdad has risen to
200, the deputy head of the security committee of the Baghdad
Provincial Council, Mohamed al-Rubaye, said in a televised phone
(CNN) -- A suicide truck bomb ripped through a busy shopping district
in Baghdad over the weekend, killing more than 100 in what was the
deadliest single attack in the war-weary country in years.
The brazen Saturday night attack in the heart of the packed Karrada
neighborhood killed at least 125 people, including 25 children and 20
Families had been gathering hours after they broke the fast for the
holy Muslim month of Ramadan and prepared for Eid al-Fitr -- the day
that marks the end of the holiday this week.
As people congregated, shopped and watched soccer matches, the
bomb-laden truck plowed into a building housing a coffee shop, stores
and a gym. Firefighters rescued wounded and trapped people in adjacent
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the latest in a
string of assaults during Ramadan, a period of fasting and prayer for
Muslims and also a time when jihadists launch operations against those
they regard as their enemies.
At least 147 people were wounded.
ISIS promised an uptick in terror attacks during Ramadan. The Baghdad
assault came just days after massacres at a cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh,
the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, and security
targets in Yemen. There have also been recent suicide attacks in Jordan
at a border crossing near Syria, and suicide attacks in a Christian
area of northern Lebanon.
Last month, a gunman shot up a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing
49 people before he was killed, and an attacker killed a police
commander and his partner in France.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Bangladesh and Yemen
and there are news reports that ISIS claimed responsibility for the
Jordanian attack. Experts believe the group might have conducted the
attacks in Turkey and Lebanon.
Omar Mateen, the killer in Orlando, and the attacker in France both pledged allegiance to ISIS.
A second bomb exploded Sunday at an outdoor market in the Shaab
neighborhood of southeastern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding
five others, police said.
Both Baghdad strikes are a sign of the Sunni-Shiite tension in the
Muslim world. Sunni-dominated ISIS claimed it was targeting Shiite
neighborhoods. Karrada and Shaab are predominately Shiite.
"These acts of mass murder are yet another example of Daesh's contempt
for human life," said State Department spokesman John Kirby, using
another term for ISIS. "From Baghdad to Istanbul, Brussels, Dhaka, and
Paris, Daesh terrorists murder the innocent to attract attention and
recruits. They will not succeed."
Kirby was also making reference to the attacks last November in Paris
that killed 130 people and the attacks in Brussels that left more than
Witness: 'I lost several friends'
In Karrada, college student Sadeq al Zawini, 25, was watching as rescue workers pulled bodies from the rubble.
"We've had it with the Iraqi government and politicians. They can't
continue blaming Daesh and other terrorist groups. We need a solution,"
he said. "I lost several friends myself, some are still missing," he
The anger of residents manifested itself when Iraqi Prime Minister
Haider al-Abadi and other officials attempted to survey the bomb damage.
Amateur videos posted on social media showed residents throwing objects
at a convoy carrying al-Abadi in Karrada. The videos showed protesters
yelling "thief!" and "get out!"
In a statement, al-Abadi said he understands the reaction in "that
moment of grief" by the residents who threw objects at his convoy.
He said he came to Karrada to console families and "share their sorrow
in this painful tragedy that happened." He said ISIS tried to hijack
the joy that Iraqis felt over recent victories against ISIS in Falluja.
As for Baghdad, it has witnessed a surge in the number of car bomb
attacks in recent weeks, with ISIS claiming responsibility for many of
One of the worst incidents occurred in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood
May 11, when a car packed with explosives detonated, killing at least
64 people and wounding 87, according to security officials.
A week later, three more explosions were set off. Sadr City was hit again -- another 24 people were killed and 71 were wounded.
The other two explosions were in the Shaab neighborhood adn killed at least 19 people and wounded another 44.
Hundreds of new U.S. troops to Iraq a 'possibility'
Al-Abadi called the Karrada strike "dastardly" and "cowardly" and announced a three-day mourning period.
"This is a cowardly and heinous act of unparalleled proportions, to
target peaceful civilians in the closing days of the holy month of
Ramadan, including shoppers preparing" for the Eid holiday, said Jan
Kubis, the United Nations special representative for Iraq.
Former Iraqi diplomat: Iraq is in political chaos
The White House issued a statement saying, "These attacks only
strengthen our resolve to support Iraqi security forces as they
continue to take back territory from ISIL, just as we continue to
intensify our efforts to root out ISIL's terrorist network and
leaders." ISIL is also another name for ISIS.
UNICEF reacted to the death of 25 children in the attack.
"The killing and maiming of children is a grave violation under
international humanitarian law," the group said in a statement. "As
violence across Iraq intensifies, children continue to pay the heaviest
Bombing comes after Iraqi gains against ISIS
This flurry of ISIS strikes during Ramadan comes as the United States
says the group is losing ground in the warfare across Syria and Iraq.
Iraqi forces announced last week they have seized the city of Falluja,
40 miles west of Baghdad, from ISIS. At the time, authorities assured
Baghdad residents that the bombings would stop.
Many of the car bombers and suicide bombers who have plagued the capital for years are from Falluja, about an hour away.
"Obviously this will reignite the anger of ordinary people who say we
can't even go out at night and enjoy life in our city," said CNN Senior
International Correspondent Ben Wedeman.
Iraqi forces, encouraged by their triumph, are turning their attention
to Mosul, where they and Kurdish forces plan to wrest control of Iraq's
second-largest city in the north. Mosul has been under ISIS control
Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst and retired Air Force colonel,
thinks the attacks will worsen and said that is ISIS' game plan, to
"They are trying to create enough chaos in Iraq itself so that the
Iraqi forces will find it very difficult to actually take advantage of
the forward momentum they have achieved because of their victory in
Falluja and that is a very serious issue that the al-Abadi
administration is going to have to address."
It's hard to say "when and where they are going to strike," he said of ISIS.
"This is a very, very difficult time. It is a very risky time, just
because the political fissures are so great within Iraq that they are
so easily exploitable by ISIS and its fellow travelers."
Such attacks, like the one in Baghdad will serve to drive a wedge
between the government and the people, in particular the Shiites.
"The wedge was already there and its fairly easy for them to exploit this," he said.
Bomb detectors pulled from security checkpoints
After the Karrada attack, al-Abadi issued a statement ordering all bomb
detector devices pulled from security checkpoints. He ordered the
Interior Ministry to reopen a probe into corrupt deals to purchase such
This occurred amid fears that some detectors don't work.
Six years ago, the Iraqi government accused a manufacturer of supplying
the country with some fake bomb detectors and said Tuesday it plans to
sue the company.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh at the time said that three Iraqi
investigations into the devices determined most of the bomb detectors
are working, although some are fake and ineffective. He did not name
the detectors in his statement or explain the investigations.
The alleged fakes have been removed from Iraqi streets and have been replaced by functioning ones, al-Dabbagh had said.
Islamic Law Controls the Streets
Enforcers patrol the city and Shiite militiamen
have taken over the police. Residents accused of infractions are beaten or
By Louise Roug
Times Staff Writer
June 27, 2005
BASRA, Iraq — Physicians have been beaten for treating female patients. Liquor
salesmen have been killed. Even barbers have faced threats for giving haircuts
judged too short or too fashionable.
Religion rules the streets of this once cosmopolitan city, where women no longer
dare go out uncovered.
"We can't sing in public anymore," said Hussin Nimma, a popular singer from the
south. "It's ironic. We thought that with the change of the regime, people would
be more open to singing, art and poetry."
Unmarked cars cruise the streets, carrying armed, plain-clothed enforcers of
Islamic law. Who they are or answer to is unclear, but residents believe they
are part of a battle for Basra's soul.
In the spring, Shiite and Sunni Muslim officials were killed in a series of
assassinations here, and residents feared their city would fall prey to the kind
of sectarian violence ailing the rest of the country.
Instead, conservative Shiite Islamic parties have solidified their grip, fully
institutionalizing their power in a city where the Shiite majority had long been
persecuted by the Sunni-dominated rule of Saddam Hussein.
Although eager to distance themselves from the militias, Shiite religious
parties now control both the streets and the council chambers. And though Basra
has not suffered the same level of bombings and assassinations as major cities
to the north, the trade-off for law and order appears to be a crackdown on
social practices and mores that were permissible under the secular, if
repressive, regime of Hussein.
In a sign of Basra's strategic and symbolic importance, Abdelaziz Hakim, head of
the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a leading Shiite party,
visited the city this month. Thousands of residents watched as the former
commander of SCIRI's paramilitary force released 18 white doves representing
But peace in Basra, Iraq's second most populous city, has come at a cost.
A few weeks ago, the Basra police chief acknowledged that he'd lost control of
his 13,000-strong force to Shiite militiamen who joined up. He was removed from
his job. His replacement is rumored to be Lt. Col. Salam Badran, who is
affiliated with SCIRI.
Some residents believe many members of the SCIRI-affiliated paramilitary force,
the Badr Brigade, have signed on to the Basra police force, and that brigade
members give first loyalty to the party.
"The militias are more powerful than the police," said Saba Shedar, a goldsmith.
The man who brings home a bottle of liquor or the woman without a veil both risk
beatings, he said. Merchants who kept their shops open well into the night now
close at sunset out of fear.
"This is the democracy of 2005," Shedar said. "We expected improvement, but now
there's no freedom in the streets for the women. People are afraid."
The militiamen carry out political assassinations and dole out punishment for
alleged religious infractions, residents say.
Local SCIRI officials deny any participation in the clandestine killings and
emphasize their party's involvement in the political process. The Badr militia's
most important job is setting an example of virtuous conduct, said Furat Sharza,
a SCIRI representative.
"Badr people can educate others," Sharza said. "The role of Badr in Basra —
whether in security or other area — is big, vital."
National Shiite leaders have said militias would not be disbanded, affronting
Sunnis who believe they are targets of vengeance by Shiites who were brutally
repressed under Hussein's Sunni-run regime.
In restaurants, people now talk of the trade-off of militia influence.
"Security is good in part because the militia is effective," said Saad Hussein,
a visitor from Baghdad. "You must give them a power to fight the terrorists, but
it has to be a limited power. If it's unlimited, they'll use it against the
society. It's a difficult balance."
A local businessman who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisal
compared the current strict rule to life under Hussein.
"The same thing is happening now," he said. "During Saddam, we had the secret
police. Now it's coming again. If you say something bad, they shoot you in the
Although you need a strong police force, he said, "they have to be for the
government, not for the political parties."
On the Basra provincial council, 35 of the 41 members are affiliated with
Islamic Shiite groups. The governor is a member of a local political party
connected to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr. Stickers and
posters of the cleric dominate the walls inside the provincial government
Just a few months ago, militiamen loyal to Sadr beat students at a picnic in
Andalus Park, allegedly because men and women were singing and dancing together.
Police stood and watched.
Sadr's Mahdi militia clashed with troops of the U.S.-led coalition last year in
Basra, Baghdad and in the holy city of Najaf. But Sadr has since agreed to
disarm the militia, reportedly to reinvent himself as a mainstream politician.
"We don't have any kind of relationship with [the militias] or with the hands
that are moving them," said Abu Zehra Mayahi, a Sadr representative. "We have
good relations with other groups. Political representation on the council
includes Christians, Sunnis, Shiites."
Sabah Sudani, the deputy director of the Basra Chamber of Commerce, has no
quarrels with the militias. After all, he said, there's little foreign
investment without security.
While the ouster of Hussein brought optimism to Basra, residents complain that
even with good security there has been little foreign investment and few public
projects to improve the city's infrastructure and create jobs.
That may soon change. Iraqi Airways began flying this month between Baghdad and
Basra, connecting businessmen in the capital with the city that borders Iran,
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. About to arrive are United Nations representatives, and
with them probably the World Bank and the prospect of international investment.
Despite the increasing prohibitions on such activities as drinking and singing,
tourists will also come to the city, Sudani predicted.
The view from the edge of the Shatt al Arab waterway had a pleasing postcard
Swallows skipped along the water's surface. Fishermen mended their nets. A
knock-off plaster Mickey Mouse — his nose too pointy — stood guard at a
now-closed carnival, the Ferris wheel frozen. Nearby, a family dried laundry
amid the rubble of a former casino.
His own bait overlooked, Abdul Kareem watched his son pull fish from the river.
The river, green like jade, is unchanged but the city is different, Kareem said.
Lovers used to be drawn here at night, he remembered. "Girlfriends, wives —
nobody asked," he said. "Now, no one dares."
He sighed at the memory of nightclubs now closed, and girls without veils.
"Freedom," he said.
Times staff writer Raheem Salman contributed to this report.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX