Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Massive Security Raids In Basra

On January 24, 2009 Basra’s Operations Command (BOC) announced a security crackdown in the southern province in preparation for the January 2009 provincial elections. The campaign started off slowly, but has continued to this day with massive arrests. So many have been detained that there are few details on who they are other than members of criminal gangs and militias.

The security operation has no name, but involves both Army and police units. They have set up checkpoints across Basra City, and conduct several raids a week. Besides people, they have also confiscated weapons, cars and motorcycles. On April 25 for example, it was reported that 19 wanted men were arrested on terrorism and criminal charges, along with 36 unregistered cars and 17 motorcycles.

In the first phase of the operation from January 24 to the end of February 220 people were detained. That picked up in March with 567 arrests. This month the authorities have taken away 1,037 people for a grand total of 1,626. Along the way there have also been sporadic incidences of violence against Iraqi and Coalition forces, as well as top local officials. On April 5 an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted Basra’s governor Mohammed Mosbeh al-Waeli. The governor was unhurt. Five days later a bomb went off targeting an Iraqi army unit, and a Multi-National Force patrol was hit by an IED on April 20. Both attacks resulted in no casualties. On the 27 the Director General of the police in Basra also escaped an IED. While no suspects were mentioned in any of the press reports, they were most likely Special Groups or members of the Mahdi Army, who have probably been prime targets of these raids since they were the largest and most dangerous armed groups in the province.

No other area of Iraq has reported so many arrests in recent weeks as Basra. The provincial elections are over, but the operation is continuing. It’s not unusual for 50, 60, up to 100 men or more to be carted away in a day. The fact that there have been so few reprisal attacks by militias or gangs as a result shows their weakened position after Maliki launched his first crackdown there in March 2008. This is quite a turn around for a province where every political party had its own militia, and Iran was actively involved in supporting gunmen. It also shows the new status quo of the Sadrists who were once one of the most powerful groups in the area. The Mahdi Army has largely been disbanded, the movement has split several times, and the loyalists are now emphasizing politics, religion, and social services over militancy. This has allowed the government to sweep up his followers in the south, while reaching out to them in the new provincial councils in what has become a classic carrot and stick approach by Maliki.


Aswat al-Iraq, “2 wanted men arrested, explosives seized in Basra, 2/6/9
- “3 wanted men nabbed in Basra,” 1/26/09
- “5 arrested in Basra,” 2/22/09
- “5 wanted men, 2 Iranians arrested in Basra,” 1/24/09
- “6 wanted men arrested in Basra,” 3/3/09
- “6 wanted men detained in Basra, 2/10/09
- “6 wanted men nabbed, 2 Grad rockets seized in Basra,” 2/18/09
- “6 wanted men nabbed, ammo found in Basra,” 2/9/09
- “6 wanted men nabbed in Basra,” 2/4/09
- “7 wanted men arrested, kidnapped child freed,” 2/14/09
- “8 wanted persons, 14 suspects arrested in Basra,” 3/6/09
- “9 wanted persons arrested in Basra,” 1/25/09
- “10 wanted men nabbed in Basra,” 3/25/09
- “15 wanted men arrested in Basra,” 4/22/09
- “16 wanted men arrested in Basra,” 3/5/09
- “16 wanted men nabbed in Basra,” 3/2/09
- “16 wanted persons arrested in Basra,” 2/12/09
- “17 wanted men arrested, explosive materials seized in Basra,” 4/23/09
- “17 wanted men arrested in Basra,” 3/23/09
- “18 wanted men arrested in Basra,” 3/24/09
- “19 arrested during Basra raids,” 4/25/09
- “20 persons detained in Basra,” 4/9/09
- “21 arrested in Basra,” 4/10/09
- “21 wanted men, 15 suspects nabbed in Basra,” 3/15/09
- “21 wanted men arrested on criminal, terror charges,” 3/11/09
- “29, 2 IEDs defused in Basra,” 4/12/09
- “30 wanted men detained in Basra,” 3/19/09
- “30 wanted men detained in Basra,” 3/20/09
- “32 arrested in Basra,” 4/4/09
- “32 wanted persons arrested in Basra,” 2/15/09
- “38 arrested in Basra on ‘terrorist and criminal’ charges,” 2/20/09
- “40 arrested on ‘terrorist and criminal’ charges in Basra,” 3/14/09
- “44 suspects, wanted men nabbed in Basra,” 4/19/09
- “48 wanted men, 19 suspects arrested in Basra,” 2/24/09
- “50 wanted persons, suspects arrested in Basra,” 4/2/09
- “57 wanted men, suspects nabbed in Basra,” 3/17/09
- “60 wanted men nabbed in Basra,” 3/31/09
- “65 wanted men, suspects nabbed in Basra,” 4/7/09
- “65 wanted persons, suspects arrested, arms seized in Basra,” 4/9/09
- “73 persons arrested in Basra,” 4/14/09
- “74 suspects, wanted men arrested in Basra,” 4/6/09
- “75 suspects, wanted men arrested in Basra,” 4/1/09
- “79 suspects, wanted men nabbed in Basra,” 4/16/09
- “81 wanted men, suspects arrested in Basra,” 3/8/09
- “91 wanted persons, suspects captured in Basra,” 4/16/09
- “103 wanted men, suspects captured in Basra,” 3/16/09
- “109 suspects, wanted men nabbed in Basra,” 4/21/09
- “149 wanted, suspects arrested in Basra,” 4/15/09
- “Basra police chief escapes attempt on life,” 4/27/09
- “Bomb targets Iraqi army in Basra - advisor,” 4/10/09
- “MNF detains group on terror charges,” 4/19/09
- “Police arrest 10 wanted men in Basra,” 2/3/09
- “Police detain 4 wanted men in Basra,” 3/26/09
- “Roadside bomb hits MNF patrol in Basra,” 4/20/09
- “Sadr urges followers to abandon violence,” 3/18/09- “Security operation launched in Basra ahead of poll,” 1/24/09
- “URGENT/Basra governor escapes attempt with IED,” 4/5/09


Alex Bratt said...

Well writen blog with good insight... but to correct: IED is not "improved explosive device" but improvised explosive device

Joel Wing said...

Oops. That was a typo. Now fixed.

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