Iraq Struggles to Combat Evolving Terrorist Threat

By Mustafa al-Kadhimi, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq needs to up its game if it hopes to keep up — or rather, catch up — with ever-evolving terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS).

The Iraqi government is unable to secure its cities, including the capital, Baghdad, even in Shiite areas that offer no support or accommodations to IS. In fact, terrorist acts are often carried out in the heart of Baghdad’s Shiite areas.

In July, a suicide car bombing targeted a security checkpoint at the entrance of the city’s Shiite majority neighborhood of Kadhimiya. Most recently, a Jan. 11 operation included a suicide car bombing, shooting and hostage taking in the crowded al-Zahra shopping center in the Shiite-majority area of New Baghdad; 32 people were killed by the bomber and accompanying gunmen.

IS officially claimed responsibility for the Jan. 11 attack. “Four soldiers of the caliphate carried out a suicide fighting operation amid a crowd of apostate polytheists in central Baghdad [and] caused a large death toll,” IS said on its social media pages.

This raises questions about how the terrorists managed to reach these areas despite the many police checkpoints and internal security forces. Security forces may have found some answers after arresting a group of terrorists Jan. 4, with officials saying the group was responsible for a series of bombings in Baghdad, the most recent one being a Nov. 8 attack in Sadr City.

The terrorists actually spoke on Iraqi Al-Sumaria TV about the various means IS uses to carry out terrorist acts in Shiite areas.

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