July 2016 – BAGHDAD, Iraq – Nearly 200 people were killed and 200 wounded in two bombings overnight in Baghdad, most of them in a busy shopping area as residents celebrated Ramadan, police and medical sources said on Sunday. The attack on the shopping area of Karrada is the deadliest since U.S.-backed Iraqi forces last month scored a major victory when it dislodged Islamic State from their stronghold of Falluja, an hour’s drive west of the capital. It is also the deadliest so far this year.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had ordered the offensive after a series of deadly bombings in Baghdad, saying Falluja served as a launch pad for such attacks on the capital. However, bombings have continued. A convoy carrying Abadi who had come to tour the site of the bombings was pelted with stones and bottles by residents, angry at what they felt were false promises of better security. A refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up in the central district of Karrada, killing 115 people and injuring at least 200. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated online by supporters of the ultra-hard line Sunni group. It said the blast was a suicide bombing.
Karrada was busy at the time as Iraqis eat out and shop late during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends next week with the Eid al-Fitr festival. Videos posted on social media showed people running after the SUV convoy of Abadi as he departed Karrada after touring the scene, throwing pavement stones, bottles of water, empty buckets and slippers, venting their anger at the inability of the security forces to protect the area. Another video posted on social media showed a large blaze in the main street of Karrada, a largely Shi’ite district with a small Christian community and a few Sunni mosques.
Reuters TV footage taken in the morning showed at least four buildings severely damaged or partly collapsed, including a shopping mall believed to be the target, and gutted cars scattered all around. The toll climbed during the day as rescuers pulled out more bodies from under the rubble and people succumbed from their injuries. Comments posted on social media accused security forces of continuing to use fake bomb detectors at checkpoints filtering traffic in Baghdad, five years after the scandal broke out about a device commonly known as the ‘magic wand.’ A police officer in Baghdad confirmed these hand-held ADE 651 detectors were still in use. They were sold to Iraq and other nations by a British businessman who was jailed for 10 years in 2013 in the United Kingdom for endangering lives for profit.
AL SHAAB ATTACK
In a second attack, a roadside explosive device also blew up around midnight in a market in al-Shaab, a Shi’ite district in the north of the capital, killing at least two people, police and medical sources said. Iraqi forces on June 26 declared the defeat of IS militants in Falluja, a historic bastion of Sunni insurgency, following a month of fighting. Now the militants were “trying to compensate for their humiliating defeat in Falluja,” said Jasim al-Bahadli, a former army officer and security analyst in Baghdad. “It was a mistake for the government to think that the source of the bombings was restricted to just one area,” he said.
“There are sleeper cells that operate independently from each other.” Falluja was the first Iraqi city to fall to Islamic State in January 2014. Abadi said the next target of the Iraqi forces is Mosul, the de facto capital of the militants and the largest city under their control in both Iraq and Syria. –Reuters
Terrorist attack on US interests in Middle East – JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – State-linked Saudi news sites are reporting that a suicide bomber has carried out an attack near a U.S. diplomatic site in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. Okaz news website says the bomber died in the attack, and that no other deaths were immediately reported. The bomber was apparently headed in a car toward a mosque that is near the U.S. consulate in Jiddah. Most of the consulate’s staff have reportedly moved offices to a new location. RT News reports, “Saudi Arabia’s security forces shot dead a suicide bomber outside of the US consulate service in the port city of Jeddah, local media reported. The attacker was killed while trying to detonate himself as Americans kicked off 4th of July celebrations.”
Sabq news website reported that two security guards were wounded in the attack, which took place early Monday. U.S. Embassy officials in Saudi Arabia and Interior Ministry officials could not be immediately reached for comment. A 2004 militant attack on the U.S. consulate in Jiddah left nine people dead. –NY Times
Other than sporadic drone attacks on suspected ISIS militants, most of them conducted illegally over other sovereign nations, the U.S. still has no effective strategy for fighting ISIS. U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East continues to be reactionary and in a state of disarray with no clear lines of distinction between real friends or foes. It’s one of those annoyingly fluid situations that changes as much as a high school girl’s choice of boyfriends. The U.S. coddles Middle Eastern leaders and dictators today, when it is in their own interest and work to overthrow them tomorrow when and if they decide U.S. interests has changed. Case in point, the former Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and more recently Muammar Gaddafi are just a few examples. The same U.S. axiom applies to the use of terror organizations to fight regimes. The U.S. used elements of the Taliban and Al Qaeda to wage war against the soviets in Afghanistan and it’s using terrorists to fight wars against the Assad regime in Syria and to fight ISIS terrorist cells in Yemen. And the U.S. wonders why it has no effective foreign policy to stop ISIS or prevent future wars in the Middle East.
In 2014, President Obama said, “We don’t yet have a complete strategy,” Obama told reporters during a news conference at the G-7 summit of leading industrial nations in Germany. Obama’s comments are a surprising admission nine months into the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign against the terror group. 1
In 2015, “President Obama said Monday the United States does not have a complete plan to train and equip Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State in Iraq.” 2
And after the June 12, 2016 massacre by 29-year old Omar Mateen, who called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in an Orlando nightclub mass shooting, President Obama used the tragic occasion to not announce plans of how to stop ISIS or radical Islam from invading the U.S. but rather how to stop Americans from buying semi-automatic guns. The President said: “Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.” 3
And regarding ISIS, to quote President Obama, “And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.” ISIS recent string of terrorist attacks to spread fear throughout the world is more than just a triumph of the will of radical jihadists; it’s also a fitting eulogy and testament to the failure and ineptitude of American leadership to gut this, and other similar terrorist organizations from the inside out. –Alvin Conway
Bay of Pigs Repeat: U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard warns rogue U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, spear-headed by the CIA, could end up causing the next World War or a nuclear war. (Filed – December 2015)