Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Al Qaeda's Changing Tactics - Using Children

Al Qaeda in Iraq is changing their tactics in response to the surge. It has been commonplace for al Qaeda to use women and children as human shields (see here). Now they are taking the concept to the next level. The latest atrocity - placing two children in the back seat of a vehicle filled with explosives, passing through a checkpoint, then escaping from the vehicle and detonating it remotely, the children still inside.

The vehicle was stopped at the checkpoint but was allowed through when soldiers saw the children in the back, said Major General Michael Barbero of the Pentagon's Joint Staff.

"Children in the back seat lowered suspicion. We let it move through. They parked the vehicle, and the adults ran out and detonated it with the children in the back," Barbero said.

The general said it was the first time he had seen a report of insurgents using children in suicide bombings. But he said Al-Qaeda in Iraq is changing tactics in response to the tighter controls around the city.

A US defense official said the incident occurred on Sunday in Baghdad's Adhamiyah district, a mixed neighborhood adjacent to Sadr City, which is predominantly Shiite.

After going through the checkpoint, the vehicle parked next to a market across the street from a school, said the official, who asked not to be identified.

"And the two adults were seen to get out of the vehicle, and run from the vehicle, and then followed by the detonation of the vehicle," the official said.

"It killed the two children inside as well as three other civilians in the vicinity. So, a total of five killed, seven injured," the official said.
. . . .
Attacks on Iraqi civilians are down by a third and sectarian murders have fallen by 50 percent since mid-February when US and Iraqi forces began moving into Baghdad as part of a new security crackdown, the general said.

The general went on to report that the number of attempted car bombings has actually increased, but the significant decrease in casualties since the start of the surge is due to the effectiveness of the checkpoints and, one would assume, the Operation Safe Markets discussed here.

Also in the briefing, the General talked about Sadr and his militia - and what he had to say was quite interesting, implying that the U.S. is in talks with individual commanders of he Mehdi Army, attempting to seperate from Sadr.
He said US commanders remain concerned about the Shiite militias led by radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, even though US forces are now operating freely in Sadr City and his Mahdi army militia is quiet.

Sadr is still in Iran but in communication with leaders of his movement in Iraq, he said.

"Where we are with the leaders of his movement is at a pretty delicate point, and I probably don't want to talk any more about his followers, and where we are in our relationship with them," he said.

Read the entire article here.

Hattip: Powerline

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