The bomb attack against the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Interior in Erbil last week that killed six Kurdish security guards (asayish) and wounded more than 60 people represents a rare event in the relatively secure northern enclave. The region had not experienced such an attack since 2007, which targeted the same ministry. Al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack as a retaliation to KRG President Massoud Barzani’s stated willingness to assist the Iraqi government and Kurdish militias in Syria in combating terrorism.
Yet, a deeper look into the Erbil bombing reveals that it was more than a Syrian spillover or “the one that got through.” Although the investigation continues and conspiracy theories abound, local sources indicate that the bombing was part of a well-orchestrated escape from the KRG’s anti-terror prison linked to the Ministry of Interior in Erbil. Accordingly, the aim of the terrorists-escapees was to release one of their leaders affiliated with ISIS who had been detained in the security prison for years. The modus operandi was nearly identical to the Abu Ghraib prison break in Baghdad in July 2013, also perpetrated by ISIS.