Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – Monday saw the last of the three security parliamentary sessions in Iraq, during which the Minister of National Security, the Minister of Defense, the Interior Minister, the chief of the Baghdad Operation Command, and the Director of Intelligence addressed the Iraqi Council of Representatives about the explosions that took place in Baghdad on Tuesday 8 December, which have come to be known as the Tuesday Bombings. This parliamentary session was a closed session at the request of Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, during which he briefed the Iraqi Council of Representatives on “sensitive” information with regards to the security breaches.
At least 127 people were killed and one hundred more wounded in the five car bombings that took place on Tuesday 8 December targeting different regions of Baghdad, including courts and government institutions. Four of the bombings were suicide bombings. The Islamic State of Iraq – the Iraqi wing of Al Qaeda – claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Baghdad witnessed similar attacks on 19 August [Bloody Wednesday attacks] and 25 October [Bloody Sunday attacks], resulting in almost 250 casualties.
A source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity revealed that “the confidential information that the Interior Minister made reference to during Sunday’s [parliamentary] session was disclosed during the closed parliamentary session by Ahmed Abu Ragheef, the Information Director of the Interior Ministry.” The source added, “The information that was disclosed contributed to an atmosphere of conviction within the chamber of parliament that was absent from the previous two [parliamentary] sessions.”
The source stressed that “the Interior Ministry through the information that it disclosed, confirmed that it had briefed Baghdad Operations Command via a telegram on the morning of the bombings that operations are likely to be carried out by terrorists that same day.”
For his part, Abbas al-Bayati, an MP for the United Iraq Alliance, said that “detailed information on individuals and groups who committed the attacks of August and the identities of 13 people directly involved” was revealed during the parliamentary session.
AFP quoted the United Iraq Alliance MP as saying “the security services found the SIM card of the bomber in the attack on the foreign ministry, and that the last number that appeared was a number in Syria.” He also revealed that the Iraqi Council of Representatives is calling for the execution of the members of this terrorist cell.
However Adel al-Barwari, MP for the Kurdistan Alliance, and a member of the Security and Defense committee informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Monday’s meeting saw “a duplication with regards to the security information [revealed].” He added “the Interior Minister showed pictures of some of those suspected of being involved in the recent bombings however some of the MPs considered this to be old news as the Baghdad Operations Command had previously announced this.”
Al-Barwari revealed that “the Interior Ministry announced this information as if this was [new] activity, while the MPs considered this a duplication in the submission of information.” He added “there are indicators that have now been understood by the statements of the security chiefs, and the majority of accusations indicate that 90 percent of the terrorists and infiltrators, according to intelligence reports, come via the Iraqi-Syrian border, specifically from the region of Mosul.”
Al-Barwari also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iraqi Council of Representatives intends to make security recommendations to the government in order to avoid the mistakes and violations of the past. Al-Barwari said “the office of the speaker of parliament has issued a decision to collect all suggestions and clarifications that have been presented during the parliamentary session and present them to the Security and Defense committee which will then discuss what has been put forward, as well as arrange the information and observations as quickly as possible in order to issue an official memorandum to the office of the parliamentary speaker to put to parliament, and after these recommendations have been approved they should be forwarded to the Prime Minister and President.” He added “this memorandum will clarify the assessment of each security chief separately, as well as proposals on the security file and future plans.”
For her part, MP Maysoon al-Damluji, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the four meetings with the security officials did not tell us a lot of things that we wish to know, both in terms of the security strategy and national reconciliation. We were not told whether there was cooperation between Iraq and the rest of the countries with regards to combating international terrorism, as well as with regards to the corruption file, and unemployment which is one of the direct factors in the spread of violence in the country.”
Al-Damluji added “there is a feeling amongst the MPs that there is a lack of coordination between the security ministries and conflicting information. The intelligence chief complained about his lack of knowledge with regards to what is happening with the Interior Ministry investigation [into the attacks].”
Nadir Suleiman, the media adviser of the coalition forces in Iraq, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the role of US forces in Iraq is to provide support and counsel and to share information with the Iraqi government on an ongoing basis.”
He revealed that “an exchange of information took place with the Iraqi government on the morning of 8 December.” He pointed out that “though the information indicated a possible attack occurring later that day, there was no specified intelligence information relating to those [Tuesday] attacks.”
Suleiman added that any question related to these two sides (Iraq and America) with regards to how the Iraqi army deals with shared information is for the Iraqi government.” Suleiman also denied any disagreement between the US and Iraq over the exchange of information, saying, “There is no disagreement; information is exchanged according to the security agreement signed between the two countries.”
Former Baghdad security chief, Lt General Abboud Qanbar also revealed that the Iraqi forces had received this information during a [parliamentary] session on Monday. He said, “We received information from the American side after 5am that the enemy would undertake operations that day after 8.30 [am].”
He clarified that “the coordinates that were contained in the message [revealed that] one was at the Baghdad International Fair [west Baghdad] while the second was inside the Green Zone,” where the British and US embassies are located as well as the Iraqi government. He added, “But this information did not correspond [with the locations of the attacks] and the vehicles used were not those of which we had been informed.”