Islamic State Kills Dozens in Attack on Shia Shrine
At least 35 people were killed last night and another 60 others wounded when a series of three suicide bombers attacked the Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi, a Shia shrine near Balad, north of Baghdad. In a now-familiar pattern, an initial suicide bomber detonated his explosives amid people celebrating Eid al-Fitr, allowing other ...
At least 35 people were killed last night and another 60 others wounded when a series of three suicide bombers attacked the Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi, a Shia shrine near Balad, north of Baghdad. In a now-familiar pattern, an initial suicide bomber detonated his explosives amid people celebrating Eid al-Fitr, allowing other attackers to fire into the crowd before another detonated his own bomb. A third man wearing explosives was killed before he could detonate them. The area may have also been struck by mortar fire at the start of the attack, according to reports. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has responded to the attack by deploying his militia around the shrine and also dispatching forces to guard the shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi in Samarra, another sacred Shia site that was targeted by al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2006.
Facing mounting protests over the security situation in Baghdad, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi fired the security chief for the city, as well as other security and intelligence officials, according to a statement from his office. The Minister of the Interior offered his resignation on Tuesday, but Abadi has not accepted it. The death toll from the car bomb attack in Baghdad’s Karrada district on Sunday has now grown to 292 dead, with more than 200 others injured, Iraqi officials said yesterday; it is the single deadliest attack in Iraq since at least 2003.
Civilians Killed in Airstrike on Town Held by al-Qaeda
At least 15 civilians were killed in an airstrike on Darkush, Syria, a town near the Turkish border currently occupied by Jabhat al-Nusra. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it could not confirm who was responsible for the bombing, but that it was most likely carried out by Syrian or Russian forces. The Syrian government never specified whether Nusra was included in its 72-hour ceasefire, announced on Wednesday, and it has violated the truce elsewhere, most notably near Aleppo.
- Local authorities in Zintan, Libya, told press that Saif al-Islam, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, remains in custody despite comments by his lawyer that he had been released in April under a general amnesty.
- Saudi authorities released the names of four of the attackers responsible for the series of bombings across the country on Monday, noting they had histories of drug abuse and support for terrorists; 19 people have been arrested in connection to the attacks, including 12 Pakistani nationals and 7 Saudis.
- Satellite imagery shows the Islamic State building small, inefficient oil refineries north of Mosul to replace some of the capacity it lost in airstrikes on its captured oil infrastructure; “It’s not the ideal way to do it, so their revenue is going down. But it still works,” an analyst told the Washington Post.
- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is expected to call on NATO to do more to defend against terrorist attacks emanating from the Middle East at a summit in Warsaw today; “As a NATO country, we want fellow members not to forget about Turkey,” he said.
- The United States and Israel conducted successful tests of David’s Sling and other area-defense weapons systems against a simulated rocket barrage last month, the Israeli Defense Ministry said this week.
Arguments and Analysis
“What Should We Make of the Islamic State’s Ramadan Wave of Violence” (Clint Watts, Foreign Policy Research Institute)
“In conclusion, the Islamic State’s rapid pace of violence may come at a time when they need to find a new home for the brand. Their caliphate revenues and oil production continue to dry up. They will need to shift to illicit schemes and donations to survive. Successful attacks attract investors: will this latest string of violence bring money? Probably not, but what this rampant violence can do is signal to Islamic State’s central leadership which affiliates are still committed to the Islamic State brand. Affiliates, existing or emerging, may want to carry on the Islamic State’s vision outside of Syria and Iraq. Much like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was for the al Qaeda Central during their downturn, Islamic State Central will need an affiliate to carry the black banner forward or their caliphate experiment will crumble as fast as it was created.”
“A confederal model for Libya” (Federica Saini Fasanotti, Order from Chaos)
“While UNSMIL’s efforts have been commendable, the international community should seriously consider how to do more in Libya. It’s better to devise and implement an intervention plan now than wait for a true emergency in Libya. The international community must think about and articulate a real strategy, not merely implement tactical operations. Given the dramatically deteriorated security situation today, it seems impossible to imagine a non-security related intervention, even in defense of the soldiers called to the simple mission of protecting the new coalition government. One approach to consider is helping Libyans build a confederal state, divided into three large regions: Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan (or perhaps more if the Libyan people deem it appropriate). Perhaps it is time that such provinces become more autonomous — following different paths as they choose, based on their unique ethnic, social, religious, and political origins. This is an extreme solution, of course. But it is clear that the international community, which had been so much a part of the Libyan revolution, cannot now permit the failure of Libya as a state.”
-J. Dana Stuster
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images