On the evening of July 21, al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM) attacked the infamous Baghdad Abu Ghraib’s prison with car bombs, mortars and heavy weapons. Guards inside the prison walls were armed only with pepper spray and clubs. According to Stratfor Global Intelligence, up to a thousand prisoners escaped to rejoin AQM in its rebellions against the Syrian and Iraqi government forces. President Obama won reelection by claiming that al Qaeda was on the run. It now seems that al Qaeda is running at Americans.
The attack began with suicide bombers driving three cars packed with explosives into the gates of the prison. Fifty AQM warriors dressed in tribal garb blasted their way into the compound with rocket propelled grenades as over a 100 mortar rounds fell on the defenseless guards.
Prisoners rioted and burned mattresses and clothes to blind visibility. Inmates started throwing homemade explosives at the guards and infiltrators handed weapons to their jailed comrades. Several militants wearing suicide vests entered the prison on foot and blew up the gates to free prisoners on death row, including several of the most dangerous AQM leaders captured by U.S. troops in the bloody 2007-2008 surge.
AQM teams took up positions on the main roads leading in from Baghdad and ambushed Iraqi government security reinforcements trying to retake the prison. It took another 16 hours and a large number of attack helicopters to allow government forces to regain control of the area. The death toll was only four AQM insurgents, 71 prisoners and 10 Iraqi policemen.
The attack was part of coordinated assaults on at least nine Middle East prisons in the last month according to Interpol. At least 1000 inmates were freed in Iraq; another 1,000 escaped from the jail in Benghazi, Libya; and a Taliban raid on a Pakistan prison freed 250 convicts.
AQM warriors are gaining much greater control over Iraq’s countryside. The United Nations just announcedthat July was the most deadly month since the supposed end of the Iraqi civil war, with 1,057 Iraqis killed.
The Abu Ghraib prison break represents that a clear victory for al Qaeda’s ability to mount large-scale sophisticated operations and suffer only minor casualties. The Iraqi government’s reputation for being able to provide security for its citizens seems to be in full collapse.
Senator John McCain, who traveled to Cairo on August 6th to review the military coup d’état in Egypt, blamed America’s failure to leave a residual U.S. force in Iraq for the attack. “We won the peace and lost the war. It is really tragic,” he said. “And those people who are out of Abu Ghraib now, they are heading right to Syria.”
The CIA’s arming of al Qaeda warriors in the Syrian civil war has bolstered AQM’s reputation among rebellious Sunnis Muslims in Iraq, who are now able to exploit the weakness of the Shiite Muslim led government. In its statement claiming responsibility for the jail break, the AQM said their operation was carried out as reprisal for the security forces shot 50 peaceful Sunni protestors in the northern city of Hawija in April.
The Abu Ghraib prison break in Baghdad must have involved collusion by the 120 policemen that were supposed to man checkpoints in the area, but disappeared before the shooting began. Local media has also confirmed that 200 Sunni prisoners, some of them from al Qaeda, had been transferred to Abu Ghraib prison just days before the prison escape. These prisoners were reported to have been given access to cell phonescell phones, which they appear to have used to coordinate the attack and break-out.
The Obama Administration’s closing of 19 embassies across the Middle East is rumored to be due to internet “chatter” that escaped prisoners are planning to go on al Qaeda suicide missions against United States interests across the Middle East. President Obama’s 2012 election campaign trumpeted that death of Usama bin Laden had “decimated al Qaeda” and they were “on the run.” It seems to me, that al Qaeda’s military strength is flourishing and they are now running at Americans.