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Iraqi Police thwart al Qaeda suicide car bomb attack in Samarra

October 16, 2007

This weekend, for the first time in four attempts this year, Iraqi National Police in Samarra were able to avoid being hit with a devastating suicide car bomb (or ‘SVBIED,’ for Suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device). Terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq (or ‘ISI’ – also known as ‘AQI,’ or ‘al Qaeda in Iraq’), attempting to drive a VBIED up to an NP outpost in the southwestern part of the city and detonate it, encountered a surprising amount of resistance from the National Police there. The NPs succeeded in destroying the rolling bomb before it was able to reach their position.

While Samarra’s Iraqi and National Police have been trained by conventional American soldiers as well as by Special Forces, and have been used on countless patrols and missions in the city, their growth and development has been hampered by several massive and deadly attacks by ISI in the area, the most spectacular of which, on May 6 of this year, involved a coordinated attack on “BP4,” the Iraqi Police battle position directly in front of coalition Patrol Base Olson in the northwestern corner of the city, which culminated in an SVBIED attack that killed an extremely effective local IP commander, along with scores of his men. The vehicle used in that attack was a minivan filled with at least six keg-sized barrels of homemade explosive (along with three 155mm artillery shells).

Like those killed in that spectacular and deadly attack, many of the ISF units assigned to Samarra have seen their tenures here – and, all to often, their lives – end in ignominious defeat, whether as a result of the May 6 or other VBIED attacks and assaults on their positions, or of their decision to flee the city before such attacks could take them.

Iraqi National Police man a battle position in western Samarra.
(photo © Jeff Emanuel 2007)

Under the watch of the new Iraqi Security Force leadership, and coalition representatives from the 82nd Airborne Division and from the Civilian Police Assistance and Training Team, the current crop of ISF in Samarra – aided by the four National Police Transition Teams, one Military Transition Team, and one Police Transition Team in the area – is once again progressing, growing more effective and learning how to carry out their duties. Within the last month alone, the Police have not only accompanied coalition forces on an average of two patrols per day, but have also carried out several large-scale clearing missions on their own, with coalition forces only there to provide a gentle, reassuring hand if and when it was needed.

“These guys are getting too efficient,” said Charlie Co. commander Captain Buddy Ferris barely three weeks ago, with only the slightest hint of irony, as he walked out of a National Police patrol base in central Samarra after observing the latest NP operation. “If they keep this up, it’ll be about time for another VBIED to hit them.”

An old hotel in southwestern Samarra, just west of the Golden Mosque, in an area that is now heavily manned by Iraqi National Police. The fertile banks of the Tigris River can be seen on the horizon.
(photo © Jeff Emanuel 2007)

With this weekend’s attempted attack, that statement became a reality. However, rather than succeeding in killing or driving out the Iraqi Security Forces at the hotel outpost which they attempted to destroy, the ISI fighters were engaged and destroyed by National Police who were not willing to go down without a fight.

The ISI death toll in the attempted attack is unknown. The National Police suffered no deaths, and only three men received minor injuries. All were back at work by the next day. The hotel outpost is still being manned by the same National Police personnel, none of whom allowed themselves to be intimidated into abandoning their posts.

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At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Steevo said...

Thankyou Jeff, encouraging events there bring this man's life a taste honor of justice.


At 2:05 AM, Anonymous George Meldrum said...

Another great article from someone who's actually been there. Welcome home and lookin' forward to welcoming my son home shortly. Lookin' forward to more about the brave group of men from C Co. Thanks again for your great pen.


At 5:08 AM, Anonymous Orro said...

An effective independent Iraqi police and defence force are essential for long term peace. So stories like this that sho progress in this area are very welcome news.


At 4:39 AM, Blogger BrianFH said...

Oh, now this will become a serious Hero Story, and stiffen quite a large number of ISF spines, I'm sure. And you can bet the Hotel ISF will do their best to make sure of it!


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