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Iraq, a Sunni Vice President on the Run and Al Qaeda's recent bombing!

Interesting Article: "Baghdad bomb attacks kill at least 60" by ASSOCIATED PRESS / Baghdad published Thursday, December 22, 2011

CBS news reported that a wave of at least 14 bombings ripped across Baghdad Thursday morning, killing at least 60 people in the worst violence in Iraq for months. The apparently coordinated attacks struck days after the last American forces left the country and in the midst of a major government crisis between Shiite and Sunni politicians that has sent sectarian tensions soaring. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the bombings bore all the hallmarks of al Qaeda's Sunni insurgents. Most appeared to hit Shiite neighborhoods, although some Sunni areas were also targeted. In all, 11 neighborhoods were hit by either car bombs, roadside blasts or sticky bombs attached to cars. There was at least one suicide bombing and the blasts went off over several hours. So who are the al Qaeda Sunni insurgents?


The deadliest attack was in the Karadda neighborhood, where a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle blew himself up outside the office of a government agency fighting corruption. Two police officers at the scene said the bomber was driving an ambulance and told guards that he needed to get to a nearby hospital. After the guards let him through, he drove to the building where he blew himself up, the officers said. Figures gathered from Iraqi health and police officials across the city put the death toll at 60, and 160 injured. The spokesman for the Iraqi health ministry put the death toll at 57 and said at least 176 people were injured. But conflicting casualty figures are common in the aftermath of such widespread bombings. Al-Maliki's Shiite-led government this week accused Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, the country's top Sunni political leader, of running a hit squad that targeted government officials five years ago, during the height of sectarian warfare. Authorities put out a warrant for his arrest. Al Qaeda in Iraq is severely debilitated from its previous strength in the early years of the war, but it still has the capability to launch coordinated and deadly assaults from time to time. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was founded in 2003 and first led by the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who declared allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in October 2004. Following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, Zarqawi moved westward into Iraq, where he reportedly received medical treatment in Baghdad for an injured leg. It is believed that he developed extensive ties in Iraq with Ansar al-Islam ("Partisans of Islam"), a Kurdish Islamist militant group based in the extreme northeast of the country. Iraq's Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashemi fled to the Kurdish city of Irbil to avoid the arrest warrant issued for him. Although the Kurdish region is part of Iraq, al-Hashemi is probably safe from Baghdad's reach. Kurdish leaders run their own security affairs. The Iraqi Army or national police do not travel there, and al-Maliki would be reluctant to ask the Kurds, a powerful political bloc that he needs, to return al-Hashemi for prosecution. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, but they are a different ethnic group from the Arabs that make up the vast majority of Iraq's population. AQI'a strength is unknown, with estimates ranging from just 850 to several thousand full-time fighters in 2007. AQI's attacks against civilians often targeted the Iraqi Shia majority in an attempt to incite sectarian violence and greater chaos in the country. U.S. and Iraqi officials accused AQI of trying to slide Iraq into a full-scale civil war between Iraq's majority Shiites and minority Sunni Arabs with an orchestrated campaign of civilian massacres and a number of provocative attacks against high-profile religious targets. The group is currently led by Abu Dua, who was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on 4 October 2011 by the US State Department with an announced reward of $10 million for information leading to his capture or death.

References:

Al-Qaeda in Iraq", GlobalSecurity.org (U.S. State Department, 'Country Reports on Terrorism', 2005)
Middle East and North Africa Overview, Country Reports on Terrorism, U.S. State Department, 28 April 2006
Peter Grier, Faye Bowers (May 14, 2004). "Iraq's bin Laden? Zarqawi's rise". Christian Science Monitor.
Who Is Abu Zarqawi?". CBS News. May 18, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-13
"20 die as insurgents in Iraq target Shiites", International Herald Tribune/The New York Times, 17 September 2005
Associated Press. "Fatah Islam: Obscure group emerges as Lebanon's newest security threat", International Herald Tribune, 20 May 2007
Terrorist Designation of Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri". United States Department of State. 4 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/12/21/iraq-vice-president-denies-charges-running-death-squads/
SECURITY COUNCIL AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS COMMITTEE ADDS IBRAHIM AWWAD IBRAHIM ALI AL-BADRI AL-SAMARRAI TO ITS SANCTIONS LIST". UN Security Council Department of Public Information. 5 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
IRAQ: U.S. offers $10-million reward for Al Qaeda in Iraq leader". Los Angeles Times. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011.



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