Al-Qaeda in Iraq's recent random attacks on civilians reflect the organization's weakness and floundering, Iraqi defense officials said, crediting Iraqi forces' successful operations that killed and arrested dozens of al-Qaeda leaders since February.
"Investigations and analysis conducted by Iraqi security forces of recent suicide attacks and armed and bomb assaults by al-Qaeda in Iraq indicate that the organization is experiencing serious problems and has become aimless," said Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari, spokesman for the Iraqi Defence Ministry.
Al-Askari said al-Qaeda has resorted to attacking easy targets such as popular markets, shops, as well as the homes and businesses of citizens.
"The army's success in arresting the organisation's top planners and killing a number of its prominent leaders made it an aimless, headless snake attempting to send a message that it still exists by launching wretched attacks such as the one on the Church of Our Lady of Salvation and the attacks on markets, funeral halls, and blowing up citizens' cars with sticky bombs," Al-Askari said.
Al-Askari said that al-Qaeda is in its last throes and trying to project a perception that it is powerful and relevant. "The reality is that it is trying to accomplish that by bombing safe citizens and not targeting specific areas that are important or sensitive".
"During the past few months, al-Qaeda has failed to reach 60% of its targets as security forces were able to block its routes to important targets and thwart a number of attacks," said Major General Jaafar Ibrahim of the Operations Unit of the Ministry of Defence. "This forced al-Qaeda to alter its plans and unleash its terror on civilians instead."
Such attacks include the November 2nd car bomb attacks that targeted civilians congregating in popular areas, the attack on a billiard hall in Sadr City, the targeting of holiday shoppers on street 20 in the Bayya area, and the explosion of an IED near a funeral hall in al-Shaala area.
These bombings were at locations that were far from security forces or government posts, proving that al-Qaeda cannot reach those forces or posts, opting instead to "prove their existence" through bombings civilians, said the official spokesman of the Baghdad Police Command, Lt. Col. Mushtaq Talib.
The head of the Sons of al-Rafidain Movement, Dr. Salam al-Zawbai, said the recent al-Qaeda attacks are radically different from past attacks in terms of type, timing, and place, which confirms the weakness of the organization.
"All recent terrorist attacks targeted civilians. The terrorists were unable to reach the targets they threatened to attack in their statements and postings on the internet, and failed to prove or carry out their terrorist threats against oil refineries, gas fields, the state’s sensitive facilities, army bases, or police compounds, which proves that they have become defined strictly by words, not deeds," al-Zawbai said.
Anbar Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Abdul-Aziz al-Obeidi said al-Qaeda quickly reached its death throes because its funding sources have been dried up both inside and outside Iraq. Security forces in the country have successfully traced and cut the lines of funding, he said.
"We do not exaggerate our optimism when we say that al-Qaeda is floundering and is merely stomping its feet and can’t see beyond the ground under its feet since it is surrounded and its followers are unable to move as they did in the past," al-Obeidi added.
Iraqis no longer care about or fear terrorist threats, said Dr. Walid Mohammadi, a representative in the Iraqi parliament and a leader in the Iraqi Centrist Coalition. "This because [terrorists] do not back up their threats with action, and most of their recent attacks were on civilians," he said.