Thursday, August 13, 2015

How Does The Islamic State Deliver Explosives Into Iraq’s Capital?

Bombs are the major cause of casualties in Baghdad. Car bombs may get all the headlines, but really it is the daily routine of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and their sticky bomb brethren attached to vehicles that make up the vast majority of violence in the capital. In July 2015 for example there was 1 suicide car bomb, 4 suicide bombers, 18 car bombs, 25 sticky bombs, and 112 IEDs versus just 45 shootings in Baghdad. Of the 436 killed and 1,108 wounded during the month in the province 324 of the dead and 1,060 of the injured were due to bombs.

The Islamic State has vastly increased their operations since the winter of 2014. In October 2014 there was an average of 5 attacks per day in Baghdad. That quickly rose to 6.6 per day by December, before hitting 7.6 by February. Since then security incidents have averaged out to 7.2 from March to July. The vast majority of those attacks were bombings. This rise in attacks has happened despite heavy deployments of police and soldiers to the capital and its surrounding suburbs. That showed all that added security has not been able to disrupt the Islamic State’s networks operating in and out of Baghdad.

A glimpse into how IS has been able to make so many bombs and maintain this pace of operations was provided by a discovery made in Diyala in August 2015. On August 6, the mayor of Khalis in Diyala told the press of a discovery made at a checkpoint. Three large trucks were stopped carrying gravel, but underneath was 100 tons of fertilizer that could be turned into explosives. The mayor said there was enough there to make 4,000 bombs. The vehicles were said to be heading towards Baghdad. This revealed several important facts about IS’s networks. First, Diyala continues to be a supply base for insurgents to attack Baghdad. There’s a major highway between the two provinces, plus the Tigris River flows between them, which are used to move men and supplies. Second, militants have shown great ingenuity in building bombs. After the 2003 invasion artillery shells for example were used to make the earliest IEDs. The insurgents have now found a variety of other materials including fertilizer to create explosive materials. Finally, even though these trucks were interdicted others have obviously been able to penetrate all the security measures around the capital. That has been accomplished via a number of methods such as smuggling routes, bribes, threats and infiltration of the security forces, and other techniques. Simply finding these trucks or coming across a bomb factory is not enough to stop these attacks. The government forces have to disrupt the networks that deliver the materials to make the bombs, and then the ones that plant them. This is something the security forces have not been able to achieve yet as shown by the huge number of explosions going off every day.


Alsumaria, “Diyala announces finding 100 tons of fertilizer sufficient to manufacture 400 explosive devices,” 8/615

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