Monday, July 22, 2013

Al Qa'ida in Iraq - Mass Escape

Following an attack by apparent supporters, members of various Iraqi terrorist groups (including Al Qa'ida in Iraq) have escaped from prisons in that country. The number of escapees is estimated to be in the hundreds. Many of these prisoners are ideologically intransigent killers. This attack follows a similar incident in late September 2012, when members of the Islamic State of Iraq (the effective successor to Al Qa'ida in Iraq) attacked another prison.

This jail break comes at a disastrous time for the Iraqi people. As I wrote for The Atlantic, Iraq's security situation is rapidly deteriorating. From all sides, violent extremists are seeking to rip sectarian fissures into the Iraqi population. While Sunday evening's rampage is only the latest in a string of horrific recent incidents (see video below), it speaks to a serious problem - the growing capability of increasingly audacious terrorists. By attacking such a high profile, fortified target as Abu Ghraib prison, these insurgents are illustrating their ability to challenge the governing power of the Iraqi state. In the context of the Syrian civil war and heightening instability in Lebanon, the bloodshed in Iraq represents a profound humanitarian and strategic threat. As such, the Obama Administration must utilize all their (albeit limited) influence to bring Iraqi politicians into dialogue and if necessary, to render increased US Military/Intelligence support to Iraqi security forces.

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