The roots of the jihadist resurgence in Iraq

Craig Whiteside, in a two-part series at War on the Rocks, writes: In the Sunni areas where the Iraqi government had little control, it did not take long for the Islamic State to slowly and methodically eliminate resistance one person at a time. For example, in the small but strategic town of Jurf ah Sakhar south of Baghdad, and on the Sunni-Shia fault line, there were 46 Awakening members reported killed between 2009 and 2013, in 27 different incidents. Most were shot singly or in pairs in the first three years of the campaign, and four were Sheiks from the local Janabi tribe and leaders of the council. By my count, 1,345 Awakening members across Iraq have been killed since the beginning of 2009, and this is a massive undercount as the data is only based on confirmed media reports of killings. More importantly, there are obvious patterns of activity that focus on the contested areas that the Islamic State wants to control.

While the killing of one of the founders of the Awakening, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha in late 2007, attracted some attention, most killings were barely noticed by the Iraqi government or in the media. This is despite the fact that the Islamic State proudly claimed such kills, albeit several months later, in their periodic operational reports. [Continue reading…]

Part Two: As part of the Islamic State’s military campaign to return to relevance, introduced in the first part of this series, they constructed a multi-layered plan to free their members in Iraqi prisons.

To accomplish this feat, the Islamic State created a brigade that specialized in targeting the criminal justice system as a whole, with assassination squads responsible for killing judges, prosecutors, investigators, prison staff, and witnesses. Physical infrastructure was also targeted, including crime labs, detention facilities, and courtrooms. [Continue reading…]

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