In Iraq, Jihadists Blow Up Less Innocents, More of Themselves
Iraq has seen an army of at least 280 suicide bombers killing at least 2750 people, mostly Iraqi civilians, since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Suicide bombings as classified on Iraq Body Count increased from:
* 8 in 2003
* 59 in 2004
* 213 in 2005!
But despite the surge in suicide bombings, daily spikes of violence in Iraq has decreased since the War is Iraq began.
Each spike is a day that saw a large number of Iraqi fatalities. The days of massive death counts decreased significantly in 2005!** The spike in 2005 was from the horrible day in August when nearly 1,000 died in a stampede.
The US Army reported in September of 2004 (from March ’04 data) that there were 54 suicide bombings in Iraq yielding total casualties of approximately 813 killed and 2,154 injured. During the same time period, Iraq Body Count had 455 fatalities from suicide bombing and 16 suicide bombings listed. Iraq Body Count may not list all suicide fatalities as caused by a suicide bomber. As an example, in Najaf on August 29, 2003, 95 people were killed in a suicide blast but this was listed as a ‘car bombing” on Iraq Body Count so it did not get added to the total for suicide bombings. This gives you an idea of how tracking compares from different sources for the War in Iraq.
So where are most of these suicide bombers from? One researcher believes he knows and talked about his findings in May, 2005:
Evan F. Kohlmann, a researcher who monitors Islamic extremist Web sites, has compiled a list of more than 235 names of Iraqi dead gleaned from the Internet since last summer, with more than 50 percent on his tally from Saudi Arabia as well. In some cases, he found photos or videos of dead foreign fighters posted online. One Kuwaiti policeman who died was featured in a Zarqawi propaganda video called “Winds of Change,” while the bloodied corpse of a Turkish al Qaeda disciple, Habib Aktas, was shown on another video celebrating his “martyrdom.”
Some of the Web postings also include phone numbers so fellow Islamists can call a dead fighter’s family and congratulate them. Kohlmann called several of the numbers. “I have lists and lists of foreign fighters, and it’s no joke. Their sons went and blew themselves up in Iraq,” he said.
By the radicals’ account, they are an internationalist brigade of Arabs, with the largest share in the online lists from Saudi Arabia and a significant minority from other countries on Iraq’s borders, such as Syria and Kuwait.
However, Saudi officials do not believe these numbers from their own data they were tracking on Iraq’s suicide bombers back in May, 2005:
“The Internet sites try to recruit people — it’s the best recruitment tool,” said Saudi security analyst Nawaf Obaid. Obaid, who has worked closely with the government, said he found 47 cases of Saudis who were dead or injured reported in the kingdom’s newspapers, far lower than Internet totals, and had concluded the overall number of Saudi jihadis in Iraq was in the hundreds. “But young guys, they read [on the Internet] we have thousands of Saudis there and think, ‘I have to go, too.’ “
During the post-war phase of Iraqi Freedom suicide bombings increased after the capture of Saddam Hussein in December of 2003. This could be because Al Qaeda was not as active in recruiting for the Iraqi insurgency before then:
By 29 November media reports detailed al Qaeda links to the Iraqi insurgency, noting that Iraq had become central to its global insurgency efforts. European jihadis were being recruited for Iraq, and the importance of Abu Musab Zarqawi’s network, as well as the role of a Zarqawi-Ansar alliance in the staging of suicide operations against military, diplomatic and humanitarian targets in Iraq, emerged.30 In early February 2004 Islamist leaders were proclaiming that martyrdom operations were a religious obligation in Palestine and Iraq.31 By 29 February 2004, media reports suggested that the jihadi suicide bombing imperative had “taken root in the ravaged landscape of postwar Iraq.”
Iraqi civilian fatalities have decreased significantly since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
** This information was gathered from Iraq Body Count, an anti-war website that tracks Iraqi fatalities. Although their listings are not official and sometimes controversial (including 5 bank robbers in civilian death counts) it is still the best site on iraqi fatilities.