Tags: Iraq | Sunni | jihadists

Iraqi Terrorists Morph Into Jihadist Army

Image: Iraqi Terrorists Morph Into Jihadist Army
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul on June 11.

By    |   Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 10:52 PM

With the capture of Iraq’s second largest city on Tuesday, an al-Qaida splinter group grabbed a trove of military vehicles and heavy weapons the United States left behind for the Iraqi army.

As the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continue sweeping toward Baghdad, the deteriorating situation raises questions about the Obama administration’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from that country in 2011, analysts say. 

The weapons have enabled the militants “to morph from terrorist menace to a military force capable of overrunning an army the U.S. military trained for nearly a decade,” The Daily Beast reported.

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Today, the battle-hardened Iraqi terrorists and fighters from across the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe control a large swathe of Syria and Iraq. The seizure of the major Iraqi city of Mosul this week is a major step toward establishing militants “as the most successful jihadi group in history in terms of strategic territory controlled or land battles won,” The Daily Beast said.

The jihadist group, which is so violent and ideologically extreme that it was repudiated by al-Qaida, appears to be delighted with the new weapons caches. The group posted on Twitter a picture of one of its senior commanders inspecting an American-made Humvee, which had already been driven across the border into Syria.

Commander “Umar al-Shishani inspects spoils of war…Looks quite pleased,” the tweet said the tweet said.

General Najim al-Jabouri, a former mayor of Tel Afar, located about 31 miles from Mosul, told The Daily Beast that the bases seized by jihadists  would provide them with plenty of weaponry and military supplies.

“The Iraqi army left helicopters, Humvees, cargo planes and other heavy machine guns, along with body armor and uniforms,” said al-Jabouri, a scholar at the National Defense University in Washington who keeps in touch with soldiers and political figures in the Mosul area.

The group “has grown into a military organization that is no longer conducting terrorist activities exclusively but is conducting conventional military operations,” said retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, a key Pentagon adviser during the “surge” of 2007 and 2008 when U.S. and Iraqi forces achieved considerable success against insurgents.

“They are attacking Iraqi military positions with company- and battalion-size formations [units of between 100 and 600 men],” Keane added. And the Iraqi security forces “have not been able to stand up to it.”

In 2008, Mosul, located about 200 miles northwest of Baghdad, had been a success story with Iraqi commanders taking the lead in ousting Sunni terrorist forces. Six years later, it has become the de facto capital of a jihadist mini-state that threatens to topple the Iraqi government headed by President Nouri al-Maliki.

An estimated 9,000 Iraqis were killed in violence last year, making it the bloodiest year Iraq has experienced in almost a decade. Eight-hundred people were killed there last month, and an estimated 1 million have been displaced because of this year’s fighting.

While the al-Maliki government deserves most of the blame for Iraq’s security collapse, the total withdrawal of U.S. forces three years ago “is increasingly looking like a major foreign policy/national security blunder,” according to Peter Brookes, a foreign policy expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

Washington’s “failure to engage and assist Iraqi forces after the pull-out with key issues — like military training, advice and intelligence — helped lead us to where we are today,” he added.

With ISIS now in control of substantial portions of Iraq and Syria, the jihadists have established “a safe haven for terror operations” on both sides of the border, he said.

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MiddleEast
With the capture of Iraq’s second largest city on Tuesday, an al-Qaida splinter group grabbed a trove of military vehicles and heavy weapons the United States left behind for the Iraqi army.
Iraq, Sunni, jihadists
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2014-52-12
Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 10:52 PM
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