Baghdad – ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on the capital city of Iraq where a suicide truck bomb was detonated, killing more than 200 people. This terrorist attack has been the deadliest in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003. It is believed that ISIS is targeting Shiite neighborhoods to create conflict within the country to prevent the Iraqi forces to take as an advantage the recent victory in Falluja.
According to CBS News, the truck bomb went off on Saturday, shortly after midnight in a major commercial area in the central Karada district. Karada is a shopping zone where clothes and jewelry are sold, and residents can go to restaurants and cafes. The place was crowded with shoppers because on Wednesday is the end of Ramadan, the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
Local police said the explosion occurred when most victims were inside the multi-story building, where dozens died suffocated or burned to death.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing online, on a militant website commonly used by extremists. The statement says ISIS was behind the attack and in was targeting Shiite Muslims. The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the internet declaration.
The deputy head of the security committee of the Baghdad Provincial Council, Mohamed Al-Rubaye, told Afaq TV on Monday that the death toll was at least of 200 people.
Firefighters, paramedics and police forces are still on the scene in Karrada, pulling bodies and collecting evidence. Mohamed Al-Rubaye said that 81 bodies need a DNA testing because they are carbonized and cannot be identified.
The attack on Iraq’s capital city is the latest in a series of assaults that have occurred during Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims. Believers fast from sunrise to sunset and pray during the whole month.
On Sunday, another terrorist attack took place in Baghdad
A second bomb exploded Sunday in Shaab, a neighborhood of southeastern Baghdad. The terrorist attack occurred in at outdoor market when one person was killed, and five others were wounded, police said.
The ISIS statement online says they are targeting Shiites, and Karrada and Shaan have a large Shiite population. The Islamic State militants are Sunnis.
According to the United States, the series of attacks are ISIS response to losing territories across Syria and Iraq. Last week Iraqi forces seized the city of Falluja from ISIS. The city is 40 miles west Baghdad and authorities told Baghdad residents that the bombings would stop after that victory.
Al-Abadi sees the recapture of the town as his competence to rule and a reaffirmation of his authority and now the Islamic State is divided, but they still control Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. Al-Abadi’s government is planning the retake of the city.
A CNN military analyst, Cedric Leighton, believes that the attacks are going to worsen as a plan to provoke instability in Iraq. He says that the attacks seek to drive a wedge between the government and the citizens, particularly the Shiites.
USA Today reports that when Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went to the site of the Karrada bombing, a crowd upset with the government’s failure to stop ISIS attacks threw rocks and shoes at his car and called him a “thief.”
Following the bombing, the tension between Shiites and their rulers is on the rise, and tensions between Sunnis and Shiites are also growing. Shiites are the majority sect in the country and some local Sunnis, who ruled Iraq before the U. S., support ISIS. Some Sunnis support the Islamic State because the sect feels vulnerable by the security forces and independent Shiite militias, which are helping Iraqi troops to battle the Islamic State.
The frequent bombings led Shiite mobs through security cordons into the Iraqi parliament in May, to protest against the government’s incompetence and corruption. Extremist Shiite groups are arming themselves. An example is cleric Moqtada al Sadr, who was the organizer of the protest and who has been recruiting and training men to guarantee their [Shiite] security if needed, according to USA Today.
The former spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Justice said that there are real concerns of a sectarian infighting. Both sides are heavily armed, and the situation can turn into a confrontation.
Fake bomb detectors: More fuel to the Shiite discontent
Fake bomb detectors are seen as a symbol of the Iraqi government corruption and the constant failure to protect the Iraqi people.
The infamous ADE 651 is a device that, according to its seller Jim McCormick, can detect contraband including drugs and explosives from as far as a kilometer away.
The device was sold to Iraq by McCormick, and the British man is currently facing a 10-year sentence after a U.K. court in 2014 declared him guilty of fraud.
In spite of the arrest and the evidence that show these bomb detectors are fake, they are still widely used at security checkpoints around the country which include entrances to embassies and government ministries, and they were also employed in checkpoints at the Karrada shopping street.
The Washington Post reports that an Arabic hashtag “soup detector,” was trending as a mock to the useless devices that cannot detect explosives. The discontent reached the Ministry of Interior’s website, that was hacked with a picture of a bloodied baby next to a bomb detector bearing the ISIS markings. The photo shows that the fake device is only beneficial to those who intend to kill innocents.
As a response to the protests, Haider al-Abadi announced Sunday night that all handheld devices would be removed from checkpoints, but the following morning they were still being used in Baghdad.
The Washington Post published a declaration of a police officer at a checkpoint in northern Baghdad. The officer said that they [police forces] know the devices do not work, and he added that everyone knows it, but he says they do not have any other choice.
Source: The Washington Post