December 21, 2019


IS militants exploit political unrest in Iraq to rise again (Adnan Abu Zeed, December 21, 2019, Al Monitor)

Irrespective of the differing views on IS's role in the demonstrations, IS is obviously investing in the popular outburst and ensuing political, security and even social turmoil. Speaking to Al-Monitor, Ahmed al-Sharifi, a military analyst and former member of the United Iraqi Alliance, indicated that "IS is active in Baghdad, taking advantage of the security forces' preoccupation with the demonstrations." He said, "IS cells were already able to attack with a grenade the Central Bank in Baghdad, located among the crowds on al-Rashid Street in the center of Baghdad." Sharifi has even anticipated that "IS would carry out major terrorist attacks in Baghdad, the southern and central provinces as well."

Sharifi's point of view on IS's role during the protests is in line with remarks made by the spokesperson of the Joint Operations Command Spokesman Maj. Gen. Tahsin al-Khafaji. Khafaji told Al-Monitor, "IS is trying to activate sleeper cells, taking advantage of the security forces' preoccupation with securing the demonstrations." He revealed that "[slain IS leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi's deputy chief in Kirkuk, who was arrested, stated in the interrogation that he was plotting to infiltrate the demonstrations to carry out military attacks."

Hanin al-Qadu, a member of parliament for Ninevah province, told Al-Monitor, "Bearing in mind the security forces' preoccupation with the demonstrations in the southern and central provinces, IS would plan attacks in the northern areas where its moves and capabilities [required] to carry out attacks are greater than those in the central and southern areas."

Fallah al-Khafaji, a parliament member who worked on the security and terrorism dossier in Babil province, told Al-Monitor that "IS views the demonstrations as a window of opportunity to conduct attacks by activating its sleeper cells, particularly in the northern and western parts and on the outskirts of the provinces where the environment is favorable."

Posted by at December 21, 2019 7:52 AM