Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Insurgency Makes It Personal, House Bombings In Iraq

As Iraq’s insurgency has rebuilt itself it has become bolder in its attacks. One of its new tactics is to bomb houses. Sometimes these are improvised explosive devices (IEDs) placed outside someone’s residence, but more often than not they are bombs placed inside houses that destroy them. This is a much more personal and intimidating type of operation, because it lets the targets know that the militants know where they live, and that they can lose their property and families, not just their own lives.

In January 2014, 46 houses were bombed across the country. The vast majority of these belonged to public officials or members of the security forces. January 2, a district mayor in Tikrit had an IED placed in front of his home, and two soldier’s houses were blown up in Kirkuk. January 4, a policeman’s house was bombed in Shirqat, Salahaddin, and an IED was placed outside a soldier’s house in Kirkuk. The same thing happened in Ninewa the next day to a policeman wounding him. January 6 insurgents destroyed seven policeman’s homes in Zab, Tamim. January 7 a policeman’s house was wiped out in Shirqat, Salahaddin. January 9 the residence of the deputy governor of Anbar was bombed and collapsed in Albu Obaid. January 10 two army officer’s had their houses bombed outside of Kirkuk. January 12 and 13 three houses being built for policemen were blown up in Shirqat and Mosul. That last day the new police chief of Fallujah had his house destroyed by IEDs. January 18 explosions in Tikrit damaged three houses being built for police officers. January 24 southwest of Kirkuk a leader in the Sons of Iraq had his house bombed, then attacked leading to his death, and an official in Salahaddin’s provincial council had his house bombed in Tikrit wounding 3. Finally, January 30 the head of the Anbar provincial council had his residence bombed, while his two brothers were kidnapped. These attacks had an obvious purpose. Militants wanted to scare and threaten these people. That’s shown by the fact that very few of those targeted were at home when these explosions occurred. If insurgents wanted to kill them they would have blown up their houses at night when people were asleep inside them. Instead almost all of the homes were empty or under construction. The insurgents wanted to let these police, soldiers, politicians, and others know that they knew where they lived and that they could be targeted again at any time. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and others have reconstituted themselves and one of their main goals is taking and holding territory. By going after local officials and security force members they can achieve that goal by intimidating them to look the other way or quit their jobs so that militants can have freedom of movement and assert their control.

House Bomb Attacks In Iraq January 2014
Tikrit, Salahaddin
IED in front of district mayor’s house

Soldier’s house bombed

Kirkuk, Tamim
Soldier’s house bombed
Shirqat, Salahaddin
Policeman’s house bombed

IED in front of soldier’s house
Amil, Ninewa
IED in front of policeman’s house wounding him
Zab, Tamim
7 policeman’s houses bombed
Shirqat, Salahaddin
Policeman’s house bombed
Albu Obaid, Anbar
Deputy governor’s house bombed
Adar, Tamim
Army captain’s house bombed

South of Kirkuk, Tamim
Army colonel’s house bombed
Shirqat, Salahaddin
Policeman’s house under construction bombed
Mosul, Ninewa
2 policeman’s houses under construction bombed

Fallujah, Anbar
Police chief’s house bombed

Abu Saida, Diyala
3 houses bombed
Amiriya, Baghdad
House under construction bombed killing 2 wounding 1

Baquba, Diyala
2 houses bombed killing 3 wounding 3
Jbalah, Babil
3 houses bombed killing 2 wounding 3
Tikrit, Salahaddin
3 policeman’s houses under construction bombed
Caliph, Salahaddin
House bombed after kidnapping and killing 1
Wasiti, Tamim
House bombed

Policeman’s house bombed
Southwest of Kirkuk, Tamim
Sahwa leader’s house bombed then attacked killing him

Merbat, Tamim
IED outside district councilman’s house

Tikrit, Salahaddin
Secretary general of province’s house bombed wounding 3
Muqtadiya, Diyala
6 houses bombed killing soldier and his six family members
Rashad, Anbar
Head of provincial council’s house bombed 2 brothers kidnapped
27 Attacks
46 houses bombed

As militant groups are making a comeback they are expanding and diversifying their attacks. The wave of house bombings that started in 2013 and have continued into 2014 are just the latest sign of their growing strength and boldness. They also represent an entirely new form of attack. It’s not setting up an IED on a road or doing a drive by or even walking up to someone and killing them with a pistol with a silencer. It shows that organizations are scouting and doing intelligence work and tracking individuals back to their homes and then attacking them. It is meant to show that these people are not safe anywhere and everything can be taken from them at any time. If creating terror is the second phase of an insurgency according to Mao than these house attacks show that Iraq’s militants are well on their way.


AIN, "Urgent….3 houses detonated in northern Babel," 1/17/14

Buratha News, "After the bombing of three houses..The people of Abu Saida fear the return of "terrorism" again," 1/13/14
- "The bombing of the house of the Anbar provincial council head and the kidnapping of his two brothers," 1/30/14

Al Forat, "3 IPs' residences detonated eastern Tikrit," 1/18/14
- "IED targets Mayor's residence northern Tikrit," 1/2/14
- "IP's residence detonated northern Salah il-Din," 1/4/14
- "Police officer's house detonated in northern Salah-il-Din," 1/7/14
- "Terrorists detonate 7 houses in western Kirkuk," 1/6/14

Al Mada, "An injury in the bombing of a police house west of Mosul," 1/5/14
- "Damaged two houses belonging to the two officers detonated two explosive devices south of Kirkuk," 1/10/14
- "Killing one soldier and his family blown up with six houses north east of Baquba," 1/25/14
- "Mother killed in an orchard, a local official earlier bombing of her home after the abduction of her son, east of Tikrit," 1/22/14

Al Masalah, "Bombing of the home of deputy governor of Anbar," 1/9/14
- "Killing two gunmen and another wounded by a roadside bomb explosion  in Amriya," 1/16/14

National Iraqi News Agency, "Bombing of the home of new police chief of Fallujah," 1/13/14
- "Bombs Exploded Outside the Home of a Member of the Council of al- Rashad District South of Kirkuk," 1/24/14
- "Explosive device detonated,east of Kirkuk," 1/4/14
- "Gunmen blow up two houses belonging to police association in northern Mosul," 1/13/14
- "Gunmen blow up two houses in Kirkuk," 1/23/14
- "Killing and Wounding Six People by Blowing up Two Houses in Western Baquba," 1/16/14
- "Police officer, a policeman killed in Salahuddin," 1/12/14
- "Two IEDs detonated in front of houses belonging to security elements in Kirkuk," 1/2/14

Radio Nawa, "Wounding three civilians, the bombing of the home of the Secretary General of Council Salahaddin in Tikrit," 1/24/14


Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi said...


***One of its new tactics is to bomb houses***

This is not a new tactic. ISIS in particular has been bombing houses of those suspected of working for the security forces etc. for months now. I think Jamaat Ansar al-Islam has engaged in this to a more limited extent too.

Joel Wing said...

Hi Aymenn,

By new I meant this was a new tactic that started in 2013. I think one of the first times I recorded it was Jan. 2013.

Review The Chatham House Version and other Middle-Eastern Studies, New Edition

Kedourie, Elie, The Chatham House Version and other Middle-Eastern Studies, New Edition , Hanover and London: Universit...