Illegal checkpoints may be making a resurgence in Iraq. On 12 September militants stopped and killed several Shi'ah pilgrims at one such installation in Anbar province. Recent months have seen a number of similar facilities being set up by armed militants, mainly in the central provinces, but also around some parts of the north of Iraq as well. Militants manning these checkpoints have often been wearing police or army uniforms and have been difficult to spot. Passing cars have been attacked and occupants killed, injured and kidnapped.
AKE advises personnel to adhere to main, well patrolled routes when travelling in areas most at risk. These currently include the provinces of Anbar, Diyala, Ninawa, Ta’mim and Salah ad-Din, particularly in the districts of Mosul, Kirkuk and those immediately surrounding Baghdad. Try to travel during daylight hours and be alert to suspicious activity at checkpoints up ahead.
A Familiar Risk
The tactic of illegal checkpoints will be familiar to those working in Iraq in 2007 and earlier years as it was widely practised. The difference today is that these incidents are not yet occurring in the capital where there is a strong police presence. They are taking place in more isolated areas, although personnel throughout the centre of Iraq should be aware of the risk, regardless of their precise location. Keep your staff aware and consider taking a security specialist on all journeys. For further information and advice please contact the AKE intelligence department at [email protected]. For security assistance in the country please contact [email protected].
John Drake is a senior risk consultant with AKE, a British private security firm working in Iraq from before 2003. Further details on the company can be found here while AKE’s intelligence and political risk website Global IntAKE can be accessed here.