2005: Another Deadly Year in Islamic Terrorism
The Expanding Threat in Iraq
Posted: March 7, 2006
Since the U.S. invasion of March 2003, Iraq has been the most significant terrorist front in the world, and it remained so in 2005. Capitalizing on the nation's ongoing instability, both foreign terrorist and local insurgent groups continued to press their cause by launching numerous daily attacks on the country's inhabitants, security forces and Coalition soldiers. These attacks, which consisted mostly of roadside bombings, suicide bombings and shootings, resulted in thousands of deaths, primarily of Iraqi police and civilians. Efforts by coalition and Iraqi military and police forces were unable to reduce the number of civilian casualties in 2005.
Perhaps the most significant development in Iraq in 2005 was the increasingly international focus of the country's most active terrorist group, Al Qaeda in Iraq. In a departure from the previous two years, in which the group focused its efforts almost exclusively on Iraq, the organization planned and executed major attacks outside Iraq for the first time in the latter half of 2005. The attacks were allegedly conducted with the backing of Ayman al-Zawahiri and the larger Al Qaeda leadership.
These attacks, including the Amman hotel bombings and rocket attacks into Israel, indicate a new danger to the international community and suggest a wider attempt by Islamic terrorists to destabilize governments in the Middle East. Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi allegedly claimed that the attacks on Israel were ordered by Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Lad0en himself.
As Al Qaeda in Iraq conducted operations in other nations, tensions between it and the more nationalist native Iraqi insurgent groups boiled over in Iraq, and eventually devolved into gun battles between the two camps. Local Iraqi militants became unhappy with the tactics of the foreign jihadists, whom they accused of killing too many innocent civilians. For most of the year, Al Qaeda in Iraq operatives had been targeting the predominantly Shiite Muslim areas of Iraq in order to foment sectarian friction. Among the deadliest attacks targeting Shiites was the February car bombing against mostly Shiite police and National Guard recruits in Hillah, which killed 125. In July, a suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body at a gas station near a Shiite mosque in Musayyib, blowing up a fuel tanker and killing about 100 people. And in September, three suicide attackers detonated car bombs in the mostly Shiite town of Balad, killing at least 99 people.
In addition to Al Qaeda in Iraq, other terrorist groups conducted attacks in 2005 as well. One such organization, Ansar al-Sunna, was responsible for numerous attacks in northern Iraq, where it is most active. Ansar al-Sunna frequently targeted fortified Iraqi police installations and killed hundreds of people in paramilitary attacks and suicide bombings.