Suicide Bomber Said Cause of Iraq Attack

Suicide Bomber Said Cause of Iraq Attack (AP)

The U.S. military said Wednesday that a suicide bomber likely carried out the explosion at a U.S. base near Mosul, spraying a crowded mess tent with small pellets and killing 22 people — nearly all of them Americans. The announcement raised questions about how the attacker infiltrated the base, which is surrounded by blast walls and barbed wire and guarded by U.S. troops. However, as in many other U.S. military facilities, Iraqis do a variety of jobs at the base, including cleaning, cooking, construction and office duties.

The apparent sophistication of Tuesday’s operation — the deadliest single attack on U.S. troops since the war began — indicated the attacker probably had inside knowledge of the base’s layout and the soldiers’ schedule. The blast came at lunchtime. “We have had a suicide bomber apparently strap something to his body … and go into a dining hall,” Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon. “We know how difficult this is to prevent people bent on suicide and stopping them.”

There was little apparent sympathy for the dead Americans on Mosul’s deserted streets, where hundreds of U.S. troops, backed up by armored vehicles and helicopters, blocked bridges and cordoned off Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq’s third-largest city. “I wish that 2,000 U.S. soldiers were killed,” declared Jamal Mahmoud, a trade union official.

Initial reports said a rocket had ripped into the tent. Later, however, a radical Sunni Muslim group, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, claimed responsibility, saying it was a “martyrdom operation” — generally a reference to a suicide bomber. Military officials in Iraq said Wednesday that shrapnel from the explosion included small ball bearings, which are often used in suicide bombings but are not usually part of shrapnel from rockets or mortars.

I’m a bit surprised that an IED was mistaken for a mortar attack, given that the latter comes from above and usually with more than one explosion. Defending against a mortar attack is much more difficult than preventing a lone suicide bomber from getting into a chow hall. One would expect that local personnel employed for base services would have some sort of security badge under present circumstances, increasing the likelihood that this was done by an insider.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. LJD says:

    “I wish that 2,000 U.S. soldiers were killed,”

    Nice. Perhaps he would like to take responsibility for his country’s security? Didn’t think so.

    This guy probably packed the vest himself. Abu Ghraib is too good for him.

  2. Bithead says:

    This correction wuld seem to blow a hole in the credibility of the WaPo article of yesterday, claiming that officials were worried about the accuracy of the targeting employed by the insurgents.

  3. ken says:

    bithead, I think it was reasonable on the part of officials to assume, at least initially, that the attack originated outside the security perimeter of the base. The Washington Post article was based upon the comments of officials operating under that assumption. Reporting this does not damage the credibility of the newspaper. Nor does it damage the credibility of the officials. It is what it is.

  4. anjin-san says:

    Much like ‘Nam, our forces can’t tell who is friend or foe most of the time. The kid who is shining a Marine’s boots today may be tossing a grenade at him tomorrow.

    It is clearer with every passing day that disbanding the Iraqi army was a vast mistake. An intact army with good leadership would probably have had a much better chance of stabalizing the country. More non-planning by the Bush admin.

  5. Bithead says:

    It was fair for officials to be working n the mortar idea.

    What was unfair was the post running at length about how the whole thing was an issue of increasing accuracy of mortar attacks.

    Normally such conjecture has been left for at least the investigation to occur. That didn’t happen here before WaPo got ito their Chicken Little routine.

    I can’t help but think this is an extension of their desire to project this effort in IRaq as a lost cause.

  6. ken says:

    I can’t help but think this is an extension of their desire to project this effort in IRaq as a lost cause.

    bithead, I take it you are perhaps too young to have lived through the turmoil of the Vietnam era?

    This war was a lost cause as soon as Bush refused to committ adequate military forces to get the job done, as soon as he refused to raise taxes to pay for it, and as soon as he started prancing about in a too tight flight suit on the deck of an aircraft carrier declaring ‘mission accomplished’.

    Don’t blame the press when the fault belongs with the politicians in Washington who started this war on a lie and then denied our military the forces needed to win.

  7. anjin-san says:

    “The idea that it’s going to be a long, long, long battle of some kind I think is belied by the fact of what happened in 1990,” he said on an Infinity Radio call-in program. “Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.”

    Donald Rumsfeld, Infinity Radio call in show, Nov. 15, 2002

  8. Jim says:

    Ken,

    I may understand your comment about having enough forces and feel that is a debatable point. What seems completly spurious to me are your points about taxes (why is it that tax policy is connected to the conduct of this war?) and Bush’s trip to the aircraft carrier (Sarcasm on: I am sure all the insurgents were just being good Iraqi citizens but as soon as they saw the flight suit with the Mission Acomplished banner they thought…we’ll show him a thing or two. If only he didn’t wear the flight suit Iraq would be at peae /Sarcasm off)

  9. ken says:

    Jim, glad you asked. The point about taxes is to demonstrate that the politicians who send our military to war have a certain level of commitment. If they are not willing to pay for it, both financially and politically, then you can be absolutely sure that the war is not worth fighting and is lost before it even starts. The point about Bush prancing about an aircraft carrier is similar. It demonstrates beloved leaders complete lack of seriousness in the matter of this war.

  10. Bithead says:

    No, Ken, I lived through ‘nam. Damn near gt called up for it, in fact.

    And I’ve also been around long enough to kno when someone’s trying to paint a victory as a defeat.

  11. LJD says:

    O.K. The post was about a suicide bomber.
    Enter all of the tired, old, worn-out anti-war sentiments and criticisms of the Bush administration that were so well worn out during the campaign.
    So what now?
    Assuming every one and their mother has heard you bitch for over a year. What is your solution? Or, don’t you have one?
    I’ve posted it a hundred times before: complaining solves nothing. If the Dems understood that, they may have gotten into the White House.