Representatives from al-Sahwa (“the Awakening”) have called on security officials in the province of Diyala to provide protection to the province’s judges and lawyers, and to strengthen security procedures in government prisons and detention centers. The request came in light of intelligence that was received regarding al-Qaeda’s intention to attack or kidnap judiciary personnel to bargain for the release of detained al-Qaeda leaders.
Khaled al-Obeidy, an al-Sahwa leader, told Al-Hayat: “The information [we received] indicates that militants intend to kidnap judges, tribal leaders, lawyers and high ranking security officers to exchange them for their leaders. They have threatened to execute them if their demands are not met. These militants were previously able to assassinate clerics because the government failed to protect them in spite of the efforts that have been made to reduce the role of extremist organizations in the city.”
Obeidy criticized the security agencies for “neglecting al-Sahwa’s warnings about potential suicide attacks and other assaults against security stations, check points, markets and mosques during the early phase of Ramadan. The attacks that took place have caused dozens of casualties.”
“We warned [the security agencies] about how al-Qaeda-linked militant groups intended to turn Ramadan into a jihadist project, but the relevant authorities neglected us and said that the militant groups were not capable of carrying out such deeds,” said Obeidy.
The RTT news agency said, “Al-Qaeda’s new top leader in Iraq threatened to target judges and prosecutors in order to help free its prisoners.” The news agency added, “Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi wrote a letter in which he called on tribal leaders to encourage their men to join in the jihad."
The letter stated that “the first priority is to release the prisoners, and to target judges and prosecutors, along with their guards.” Although Iraqi leaders confirmed that al-Qaeda is weaker than before and does not have the capabilities to take control over the security situation. Some security experts asserted that “the goal of Baghdadi’s letter is to express that al-Qaeda is still present and capable of launching attacks all over the country.”
The Diyala provincial council condemned “the attacks on civilians in various parts of the province” and called the attacks “a miserable attempt to disrupt the ranks, sow discord, shuffle cards and pursue an agenda of sabotage.”
The council called on the security agencies to make “additional efforts and raise the level of alertness, maintain stability and guarantee that these criminals are handed over to the justice system in record time so that lives can be preserved.”