Islamic State of Iraq Claims Credit for Series of Operations

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 4 Issue: 14

Al-Qaeda in Iraq appears to be upping its attacks on U.S. forces. The group, acting through the umbrella jihad organization called the Islamic State of Iraq, issued a number of statements for spectacular attacks during the past few days. Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s statements are issued through the al-Fajr Media Center, which distributes them on various Islamist and jihadi web forums. On May 14, they issued a two-part statement entitled: “God is Great: four transport aircraft downed in one operation, and 17 infidels killed in another.”

With language extending their theme of mujahideen as medieval knights in battle, they described the operation: “These are the soldiers of the State of Islam, who gave the slaves of the Crusade and their henchmen a taste of humiliation, a slap they will not soon forget…The soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq (may God watch over it) were able to attack a formation of American Crusader planes, used for provision and supply transport, in the Hashimiyyat region of central Diyala province” (http://tajdeed.org.uk/forums). The statement further describes the heroic and near mythical way in which the mujahideen shot these planes from the air one after the other. As fantastical a vision this may be, past operations to shoot down transport aircraft have been carried out successfully by Islamist fighters, namely in Somalia on March 27.

The second part of the statement described the “blessed martyrdom operation delivered against 17 American soldiers in central Diyala province.” In this attack, the group claims that one individual, “this Lion from the Martyrs’ Brigade of the Islamic State of Iraq, detonated his explosives-rigged vehicle amid an American Crusader Army gathering.” Al-Qaeda in Iraq claims the suicide bomber’s vehicle “completely destroyed (by the Hands of God) one of the Crusader’s ‘Striker’ armored personnel carriers, killing 12 soldiers that were in it, and damaged another of the same type, killing five other soldiers in it and seriously injuring seven others.”

Statements such as these should be treated with suspicion. Indeed, this and other jihadi organizations have claimed responsibility for acts apparently never carried out. Nevertheless, the news comes a day after its claims to have captured U.S. soldiers south of Baghdad appear to be true, as confirmed by Maj. Gen. William Caldwell. A day earlier, on May 13, the group posted a claim to have “arrested a number of Crusaders south of Baghdad province” (http://alfirdaws.org/vb). The statements bear the phrase, “these operations have been labeled a “Noble Plan,” ordered by Sheikh Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, may God protect him, the Commander of the Faithful for the Islamic State of Iraq.” These unusual disclaimers appear to be a seal of approval from Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who enjoys the same title in these releases as did the caliph of the Islamic empires of the past—Commander of the Faithful.

This endorsement, like the language describing the noble mujahideen’s actions, gives reassurance to the supporters of the mujahideen worldwide that their efforts are overwhelming the U.S. military. Already suspicious of Western media, the mujahideen are inclined to take the word of al-Qaeda statements.