BAGHDAD — Following up on my “previous entry”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/2006/02/aftermath_of_th_1.php, I found the “video claim of responsibility”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/Files/al-Hamra.rmvb (60MB, RealVideo, sorry) for the Hamra bombing “back in November”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/2005/11/the_hamras_been_1.php. It’s all in Arabic, but it’s pretty typical _jihadi_ video stuff, albeit with better production values than I’ve seen usually.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s organization, Al Qaeda in Iraq, did the operation in the name of “Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheik_Omar_Abdel-Rahman, the “blind sheikh” currently in prison for his role in a plot to blow up New York City landmarks. Early in the morning on Nov. 18, two white vans laden with explosives approached the back wall of the Hamra compound. The first one, driven by Abu Ayub al-Iraqi, was to clear a path for the second van. In the video, the bomb-makers claim to have loaded the second van with 2.5 _tons_ of explosives, but I find this doubtful. You can see, however, that they used a number of 155mm artillery shells.
Abu Abdul Malik al-Najdi, a Saudi, drove the second van. Alongside him was Abu Samain al-Tunisi, from Tunisia, who carried a Russian machine gun to shoot any guards who arrived at the scene of the first bombing and tried to prevent the second bomb from getting to the heart of the compound. This means they learned from the “unsuccessful Palestine Bombing in October”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/2005/10/three_car_bombs.php, when the van carrying the main payload came under fire and was, possibly, stopped because the driver was shot.
Also, you can see that they make use of the latest open-source intelligence, mainly Google maps. In one part of the video, the plotters are shown poring over printouts of the neighborhood, marking routes of access. They look exactly like Google maps. The maps are also later used to show the planned points of attack.
Why attack the compound? The video claims it was in retaliation for the torture of Sunnis at the hands of the Shi’ite-led Ministry of Interior as well as for the deaths of Iraqi officers by Americans interrogators. They also saw the compound as a den of foreign intelligence, the Badr Brigade and housing for Kurdish _pesh merga_ and Western security companies. The attack also was billed a success in the video: “It was the anger of God to heal the hearts of believers,” the video proclaims. It ends with a recording of someone who is claimed to be Zarqawi himself: “To the Islamic nation, we promise you we will continue fighting until the last drop of blood.”
This claim of responsibility is unusual in that it came in January, two months after the attack. It’s possible the delay is because of the relative failure of the attack. Only Iraqi civilians were killed or injured and the second bomb didn’t make it to its intended target. Whether that means al Qaeda will come back as they usually do after initial failures is still unclear.