The security plan to protect the hundreds of thousands of visitors who traveled to Baghdad to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim was successful, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced Wednesday (June 29th).
Officials said Iraqi security forces stopped a number of terrorist attacks from targeting visitors during the past week.
"Fifteen terrorists who were planning to launch terrorist operations to kill Iraqi citizens by firing mortars and detonating explosives were arrested," said Ismael al-Kassab, a security adviser for Baghdad province. "Most of them belong to the al-Qaeda terrorist organization."
Al-Kassab told Mawtani that US forces in Iraq assisted Iraqi forces in preventing the attacks.
"One American plane sent a warning message to Iraqi forces in time, enabling them to raid the location and prevent a mortar attack from targeting visitors who had gathered in Kadhimiyah," he said.
Four suspects were arrested near the mortar launching pads, and the other suspected terrorists were arrested in the Saydiyah, Dorra, Karrada and Ghazaliyah areas. According to al-Kassab, they were attempting to plant improvised explosive devices along roads used by the visitors.
During the past week, hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the country arrived in Baghdad for the religious occasion. Al-Kassab said Iraqi border forces and airport officials also recorded the arrival of visitors from 37 foreign countries.
Around 133,000 security personnel from the ministries of interior, defense and national security, and the Iraqi Intelligence Service, took part in the campaign and were deployed in various parts of the capital.
"The deployment of thousands of security men in Baghdad and its peripheries, and the active efforts on the intelligence side, led to stopping the terrorist attacks before they were carried out," said Maj. Gen. Adel Dahham, commander of the Baghdad provincial police.
Dahham told Mawtani that the Iraqi people deserve credit for the success.
"The major reason for the success of the plan was cooperation from citizens and the information that contributed to thwarting the terrorist attempts," he said.
Khalid Abdullah, a member of the Iraqi parliament's defense and security committee, praised the security forces' capabilities.
"We are proud that our security forces have reached a stage where they can control a province like the capital Baghdad, which has a large area, and to safeguard those huge crowds of men, women and children, despite the presence of repeated plans and attempts by terrorist groups," he said.
"A small bomb would have killed and wounded a large number of people, but the al-Qaeda terrorist organization and other groups failed," he said.
Citizens lauded the Iraqi security forces' accomplishments during the visit, and celebrated the growing sense of security.
"Everything went on normally," said Babil resident Haider Naji, 42. "The security forces not only carried out their duties, but went farther to help citizens carry their bags and transported them wherever they wanted to go."
"We returned home safely after we exercised our religious freedom without fear, and this is the important thing," he said. "I believe this year is evidence of the improvement of our security forces in all respects."
Baghdad resident Fatima Khalil, 36, echoed the positive sentiment. "We succeeded in having the visit and the credit goes to the performance of the security forces."
"The whole world now knows that terrorism is not a product of Iraqis; we are all one people."