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Tuesday, October 27, 2009     GET REAL

Al Qaida offensive targets the Shi'ite government in Baghdad

BAGHDAD — Al Qaida is conducting a deadly campaign against the Shi'ite government in Iraq at a time when U.S. forces have scaled back operations in the cities.   

Officials said Al Qaida operatives, believed aided by Sunni elements linked to the former Saddam Hussein regime, were identifying and targeting government offices with Shi'ite civil servants. They said Shi'ite parliamentarians were also believed to be on the Al Qaida list.

"Al Qaida appears to have eased its campaign of daily attacks to focus on mega-bombings that would threaten the government," an official said. "We expect these mega-bombings to increase over the next nine months."

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On Oct. 25, at least 147 people were killed when two car bombs exploded near the Justice Ministry and other government offices in Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported. The blasts were said to have killed at least 25 Shi'ite civil servants in what officials asserted marked an Al Qaida campaign to destabilize the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. More than 700 people were reported to have been injured.

This marked the second major bombing campaign against the Shi'ite government in two months. In August, more than 100 people were killed in Al Qaida blasts that targeted Iraqi government ministries in Baghdad.

"The perpetrators of these treacherous and despicable acts are no longer hiding their objective but to the contrary, they publicly declare that they are targeting the state and aiming at blocking the political process, halting it and destroying what we have achieved in the last six years," Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said.

Officials acknowledged that Al Qaida was increasing bomb production as part of a plot to destabilize Iraq over the next few months. On Oct. 20, Iraqi police captured nine suspected Al Qaida bomb-makers in the northern city of Kirkuk.

One of the detainees was identified as Abdullah Abdul Qadir. Qadir, said to be linked to Al Qaida operatives in Baghdad, was said to have purchased thousands of kilograms of ammonium nitrate — a common element in improvised explosive devices — in 2006.

"At this point, it appears as if the Iraqi police have detained a low-level AQI or ISI [Islamic State of Iraq] cell leader based on evidence alone, and potentially hindered near-term IED operations in the city," a U.S. intelligence officer, Capt. Corey Sherk, said.

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