ISIL's Political-Military Power in Iraq - The Washington Institute for

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1 august 2014 . Vol 7 . Issue 8 Contents ISILs Political-Military Power FEATURE ARTICLE 1 ISILs Political-Military Power in Iraq By Michael Knights in Iraq By Michael Knights Reports 7 A Deeper Look at Syria-Related Jihadist Activity in Turkey By Stephen Starr 11Stories of Foreign Fighter Migration to Syria By Muhammad al-`Ubaydi 14Brazils Police Struggle to Pacify Gang-Run Slums By Ioan Grillo 17The Pakistani Talibans Campaign Against Polio Vaccination By Animesh Roul 20The Death Knell for Foreign Fighters in Pakistan? By Raza Khan 22Recent Highlights in Political Violence 24CTC Sentinel Staff & Contacts Kurdish peshmerga fighters inspect the remains of a car that belonged to ISIL after it was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike. - AFP/Getty Images T he islamic state in Iraq and McGurk. 3 As the Institute for the Study the Levant (ISIL)1 h a s th e of War noted, ISILs overall strategy w o rl d o n e d g e . Si n ce i ts of consolidating and expanding its n a d i r i n th e s p ri n g o f 2 01 0, 2 caliphate fundamentally relies upon ISIL is co n s i d e re d to h a v e e v o l v e d military superiority to wrest control of from a t e rro ri s t g ro u p o n - th e - ro p e s land and cities from modern states. 4 to a full - b l o w n a rmy, i n th e w o rd s of U.S. D e p u ty A s s i s ta n t Se cre ta ry A n a n a l y s i s o f I SI L s re c en t m i l i t a r y About the CTC Sentinel of St at e for Ne a r Eastern Affairs Brett a cco mp l i s h me n ts i s d i ff i c u l t d u e t o The Combating Terrorism Center is an th e l a ck o f co n f i rme d f a c t s a bo u t independent educational and research much of what has transpired in Iraq, institution based in the Department of Social 1 In June 2014, ISIL declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq pa rticula rly during the hectic months Sciences at the United States Military Academy, and shortened its name to the Islamic State. ISIL was since the collapse of federal security West Point. The CTC Sentinel harnesses previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq, and prior forces in Mosul on June 10, 2014. the Centers global network of scholars and to that al-Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI), which was led by Abu Questions still remain over the actual practitioners to understand and confront Mus`ab al-Zarqawi. In February 2014, al-Qa`ida chief contribution that ISIL made to the loss contemporary threats posed by terrorism and Ayman al-Zawahiri disowned ISIL. other forms of political violence. 2 Al-Qa`ida in Iraq amir Abu `Umar al-Baghdadi and war minister Abu Ayyub al-Masri were killed on April 3 Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Af- 18, 2010, the most senior of 34 top AQI leaders killed in fairs Brett McGurk, testimony before the House Foreign The views expressed in this report are those of the spring of 2010 (out of 42 top-tier leaders). See Michael Affairs Committee, July 23, 2014. the authors and not of the U.S. Military Academy, Knights, Back with a Vengeance: Al-Qaeda in Iraq Re- 4 Jessica Lewis, The Islamic State: A Counter-Strategy the Department of the Army, or any other agency of the U.S. Government. bounds, IHS Defense, Security & Risk Consulting, Feb- for a Counter-State, Institute for the Study of War, July ruary 24, 2012. 2014. 1

2 august 2014 . Vol 7. Issue 8 of federal control and over the mix of to demolitions of soldiers homes, the Trained fighters were increasingly ISIL and non-ISIL forces fighting since first six months of Soldiers Harvest shifted from Syria to Iraq from early June. Nevertheless, using a range of case witnessed a sharp 150% increase in the 2013 according to McGurk, and new studies from the Iraqi side of ISILs area number of sophisticated close quarters camps were set up on the Iraqi side of of operations, this article explores what assassinations of troops manning the border complete with local anti- is currently known about the movement checkpoints and effective under-vehicle aircraft defenses that proved effective from a military standpoint. If ISIL is an improvised explosive device (IED) at deterring attacks from unarmored army, what kind of army is it and what attacks on key leaders. 8 are its weaknesses? Although the campaign was executed If U.S. military support This article finds that ISIL is a military across Iraq, it was particularly focused for Iraq increases, it will power mostly because of the weakness on Mosul and Ninawa Province, and unpreparedness of its enemies. including escalating efforts to cut off become more difficult for Lengthy shaping of the battlefield, Mosuls highway communications with ISIL to achieve tactical surprise and mobility made its recent Baghdad. 9 By June 2014, according to successes possible, but all these factors McGurk, by day [Mosul] would appear surprise using vehicle- are diminishing. As a defensive force, normal, but at night, ISIL controlled mounted raiding forces. ISIL may struggle to hold terrain if it the streets. 10 When ISILs offensive is attacked simultaneously at multiple began in Mosul on June 6, 2014, the ISF points or if its auxiliary allies begin to were brittle and comparatively easy to defect. crumble during three days of escalating Iraqi helicopters. 14 ISIL attacked skirmishes within the city. 11 Mosul on June 6, 2014, with the main ISILs Multi-Year Offensive strike force deployed from Syria in ISILs successful offensive since Alongside weakening the opposition, a motorized infantry column that June 2014 can only be understood by al-Baghdadi also used the years included hundreds of armed utility situating it in the broader context of preceding this summers successes to vehicles. 15 In all these cases, ISIL its political-military campaigns since build the current ISIL force. The U.S. reinforcements from Syria joined up the organization re-booted under withdrawal from Iraq and the Syrian with local cells within Iraqi provinces Abu Bakr al-Baghdadis leadership on civil war provided ISIL secure bases that had already kept up a d r u m bea t o f May 15, 2010. 5 ISIL did not suddenly and a reinvigorated pipeline of suicide o p e ra ti o n s ye a r a f te r yea r . 1 6 Ba sed o n become effective in early June 2014: it bombers. As analysts have noted, ISIL th e e s ti ma te s f ro m a ra n ge o f exp er t s, 1 7 had been steadily strengthening and has developed a highly-motivated actively shaping the future operating cadre of qu a l i ty l i g h t i n f a n try f o rce s Deadlier Than Ever, Washington Post, August 1, 2014. environment for four years. As Brett since 20 1 2 , d ra w i n g o n th e co mb a t Also see Kenneth Pollack, Iraq: Understanding the ISIS McGurk noted in congressional experien ce s o f u rb a n a n d mo b i l e Offensive Against the Kurds, The Brookings Institu- testimony in February 2014, ISILs warfare i n Sy ri a , a s w e l l a s f ro m th e tion, August 11, 2014. planning has been sophisticated, prior co m b a t e x p e r i e n c e s o f f o r e i g n 14 See discussions of new ISIL training camps in Iraq in patient and focused. 6 jihadists w h o s e rv e d i n th e B a l k a n s McGurk, July 23, 2014. Also see discussion of the dan- and Che ch n y a . 12 T h e s e l e s s o n s h a v e gers faced by unarmored Iraqi helicopter sorties over The shattering of Iraqi security b een insti tu ti o n a l i z e d a n d re f i n e d i n ISIL camps defended by PKC machine guns and anti- forces (ISF) in June 2014 is a case-in- training ca mp s i n Syri a a n d , s i n ce th e aircraft platforms in McGurk, February 5, 2014. point, the result of years of patient first half o f 2 01 3 , a l s o i n I ra q. 13 15 McGurk, July 23, 2014. Ahmed Ali, Jessica Lewis, and preparatory operations. Early in Abu Kimberly Kagan put the number at 150 vehicles with Bakr al-Baghdadis tenure, the Islamic 8 All insights in this paragraph are drawn from The 500-800 personnel in The ISIS Battle Plan, Institute State of Iraq (ISI), the current groups Washington Institutes Iraq violence dataset. In the most for the Study of War, June 12, 2014. forerunner, began targeting pro- affected province, Kirkuk, quality attacks (involving ad- 16 Alex Bilger, ISIS Annual Reports Reveal a Metrics- government Arabs in a powerful multi- vanced intelligence preparation, advanced tactics or use Driven Military Command, Institute for the Study of year campaign of assassinations that of special weapons or suicide devices) rose from 42 per War, May 22, 2014. The report, based on ISILs claims, culminated in al-Baghdadis Soldiers month in July 2013 to 104 per month by May 2014. suggests that ISIL carried out an average of 640 attacks Harvest campaign against on-duty and 9 Lewis, AQIs Soldiers Harvest Campaign, p. 8. per month in 2013, representing the majority of violence off-duty security force members from 10 McGurk, July 23, 2014. in the country. (Counting only the types of attacks that July 29, 2013, to June 2014. 7 In addition 11 Ibid. McGurks statement provides details and a com- ISIL records, ISILs claims equate to around 64% of The pelling narrative of the crumbling of ISF defenses in Mo- Washington Institutes Iraq violence dataset in the same 5 Knights, Back with a Vengeance, pp. 2-3. Also see sul from June 8-10, 2014. period. This seems like an accurate reflection of ISILs Murad Batal al-Shishani, The Islamic States Strate- 12 Douglas A. Ollivant and Brian Fishman, State of Ji- balance of effort within Iraqs insurgency.) gic and Tactical Plan for Iraq, Terrorism Monitor 12:16 had: The Reality of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, 17 The author held conversations with Aymenn al-Tami- (2014). War on the Rocks, May 21, 2014. mi and Aaron Zelin, two scholars on ISIL, and factored 6 Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern 13 Robert Scales and Douglas Ollivant noted that a key in the views of Dr. Hisham al-Hashimi, who has had Affairs Brett McGurk, testimony before the House For- difference between ISIL and its predecessors in Iraq is access to ISIL data captured from the safe house of Abu eign Affairs Committee, February 5, 2014. that ISIL has learned to build fighting units and teach Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi, al-Baghdadis military chief of 7 Jessica Lewis, AQIs Soldiers Harvest Campaign, weapons and tactics very well. See Robert Scales and staff for Iraq. See Ruth Sherlock, Inside the Leadership Institute for the Study of War, October 9, 2013, pp. 2-4. Douglas Ollivant, Terrorist Armies Fight Smarter and of Islamic State: How the New Caliphate is Run, Daily 2

3 august 2014 . Vol 7. Issue 8 t h e n um be r of fig hters directly under Kurdish forces. 23 This is attained Since the capture of significant stocks IS I L s contr ol withi n Iraq may have through rapid approach marches of ISF vehicles in June 2014, ISIL r e a c h ed as high as 10,000-15,000, that utilize Iraqs dense, high-quality often attaches two to five wheeled t ak i ng into account defections from road network and often culminate in armored vehicles to such columns for ot h er gr oups s uch as J amaat Ansar night or dawn attacks. 24 The relative shock effect, 29 in some cases causing al - Is l am , r e pe ntances of security compactness of Iraq, where good roads tank fear 30 when defending troops f o r c e me m be r s , and pledges of ba y`a allow large swathes of the country are of lower quality or lack anti-tank ( l o y a l ty). 18 to be traversed in a single day, gives defenses. An early example of ISILs an aggressive force strong ability to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadis tenure has also concentrate forces at a given point of seen ISIL develop its own distinctive attack. Mobility and deception allow When seeking to panic style of command and control. During ISIL forces to achieve local superiority and dislodge enemy the Breaking the Walls campaign in numbers despite their smaller (July 2012-July 2013), the then-ISI strength in comparison to state armed troops, ISIL almost always demonstrated and repeatedly exercised forces, 25 with aggressive platoon-sized begins its local offensives its re-centralized command and control or company-sized 26 raiding columns system in 20 multi-city synchronized defeating and dislodging successive ISF with one or more mass car bombing waves, a sequence of or Kurdish positions. Probes and feints casualty attacks on attacks that continued until the end appear to be common elements in ISIL of 2013. 19 The bombings illustrated offensives, often apparently intended to enemy headquarters and al-Baghdadis formula of centralized test opposition, bypass solid defenses, checkpoints. control but decentralized execution, 20 and draw away enemy forces from the with his command cell setting the date main target. 27 ISIL columns have the of the attacks but the regional wilayat mobility to rapidly exploit any thinning (provinces) 21 commanders setting their of enemy forces, as occurred recently armored warfare in Iraq was its July 24, level of participation according to local when ISIL struck Jalula on August 2014, vehicle-mounted raid on the State conditions. 22 10, 2014, a town that Kurdish special Company for Pharmaceutical Supplies, forces had previously left to meet an five miles behind Kurdish lines Offensive Operations in 2014 ISIL thrust elsewhere at Makhmour. 28 northeast of Mosul city. The assault Surprise, mobility and shock are Lacking intelligence analysis skills, involved several ISIL 4x4 pickup trucks the principal characteristics of ISIL wide area surveillance capabilities, or with mounted 12.7mm machine guns offensive operations in Iraq. The local night vision aids, federal ISF and and at least three armored vehicles 31 group often achieves tactical surprise, Kurdish forces are generally not aware looted from ISF bases in Mosul. The whether against the federal ISF or of massing ISIL forces until it is too raid overran the thin peshmerga late. (Kurdish militiamen) checkpoint screen on Highway 2 and then continued to Telegraph, July 9, 2014. exploit behind peshmerga lines for an 18 Personal interview, Aaron Zelin, August 16, 2014. additional five miles after reaching 19 Jessica Lewis presciently noted that the ISI emerged 23 A good example of ISILs use of tactical surprise is the the pharmaceutical factorya total from the campaign as a military organization typified by attack on Samarra on June 5, 2014. See Kareem Fahim, penetration of 10 miles. 32 its operational planning, as opposed to a disrupted and In Brazen Strike, Sunni Militants Storm Central Iraqi leader-centric terrorist organization. See Jessica Lewis, City, New York Times, June 5, 2014. Kurdish forces suf- ISIL has also employed artillery Al-Qaeda in Iraq Resurgent, Part II, Institute for the fered debilitating tactical surprise at numerous points barrages, although only in a small Study of War, October 9, 2013. between August 1-11. See Pollack. number of cases (such as the August 3, 20 This is a U.S. military term. See Curtis E. LeMay, Cen- 24 One recent Tuz Khurmatu night attack is mentioned 2014, attack on Zummar and Kisik, west ter for Doctrine Development and Education, Volume I, in ISW Iraq Team, Lauren Squires, and Nichole Dich- of Mosul). When ISIL uses artillery, it Basic Doctrine, October 14, 2011, pp. 59-60. arry, Iraq Situation Report: August 13, 2014, Institute typically uses single artillery pieces or 21 ISILs wilayats in Iraq currently include: Wilayat Ni- for the Study of War, August 21, 2014. small arrays of 57mm rocket artillery nawa; Wilayat Anbar; Wilayat Kirkuk; Wilayat Salah 25 A point made by Pollack. ad-Din; Wilayat Diyala; Wilayat Shamal Baghdad (north 26 Most ISIL columns seem to comprise 10-30 vehicles, 29 Personal interview, Alexandre Massimo, August 12, Baghdad); and the Wilayat Janub (south Baghdad and almost all of which are reliable soft-skinned utility vehi- 2014. Jurf al-Sakhr). The author would like to thank Aymenn cles, some carrying heavy machine-guns or anti-aircraft 30 This is a phrase from the dawn of tank warfare in al-Tamimi for his generous assistance in supporting this cannons. Tanks and tracked personnel carriers remain World War I to denote the dissolving effect on troop article. rarer, in part due to their lack of long-distance mobility. morale when soldiers face an armored vehicle that they 22 Accounting for such variations is the aim of Lewis, See personal interview, Alexandre Massimo, August 12, believe they cannot damage. See David Stevenson, With Al-Qaeda in Iraq Resurgent, Part II. The messy charac- 2014. Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (London: ter of some multi-city mass casualty waves is very famil- 27 In retrospect, the opening shot of the June offensive, Penguin, 2011), p. 222. iar to the author from his own experiences monitoring the Samarra attack, may have been a strategic feint to dis- 31 These included at least one M117 Guardian armored the daily significant actions in Iraq from within a private tract Iraqi government attention and resources, which it security vehicle, one Dzik-3 infantry mobility vehicle, security company. Some cells were largely independent, did. See Fahim. and one MT-LB tracked personnel carrier. See personal particularly in Anbar, while others consistently under- 28 Personal interview, Kurdistan region security official, interview, Alexandre Massimo, August 12, 2014. took attacks early or late. August 14, 2014. 32 Ibid. 3

4 august 2014 . Vol 7. Issue 8 and mortarsneither of which are with an a rmo re d v e h i cl e s u i ci d e ca r it controls, removing Shi`a Turkmen, particularly effective. 33 On some bomb on a p e s h m e r g a h e a d q u a r t e r s , Yazidis , S h a b a k s , C h r i s t i a n s a n d e v e n occasions, heavy barrages have been killing m o r e t h a n 2 0 p e s h m e r g a Su n n i Mu s l i m K u rd s f r o m i t s n ew recorded, notably at Zowiya (where fighters, a n d a s e co n d ta n k e r tru ck te rri to ri e s . Mo s t co mm u n i t i es h a ve a 500-round barrage was loosely suicide d e v i ce i n th e to w n ce n te r, b e e n w a rn e d to l e a v e , t h en t a r g et ed estimated). 34 followed by individual s u i ci d e w i th p ro g re s s i v e l e v e l s o f vi o l en c e vest b o mb i n g s o n 1 2 ch e ck p o i n ts i n cl u d i n g l a rg e - s ca l e k i d n a p - m u r d er Instead, the heavy weapons most b y figh te rs w e a ri n g K u rd i s h - s tyl e s p re e s a n d ca r b o mb i n g s t h a t esc a l a t e frequently employed by ISIL tend to uniform s . 38 U n s u rp ri s i ngly, this o v e r a tw o to th re e w eek p er i o d . 42 be its traditional toolsthe suicide or onslaught shattered peshmerga morale I SI L i s a l s o p u rp o s e f u l l y bl o c ki n g t h e remote-detonated car bomb and the and the town was lost. f l o w o f w a te r a n d e l e ctr i c i t y t o a r ea s suicide vest. 35 When seeking to panic w h e re mi n o ri ti e s h a v e been p u r g ed , and dislodge enemy troops, ISIL almost ISIL also uses various types of a p p a r e n t l y t o d e t e r r es e t t l e m e n t o f always begins its local offensives with exemplary violence, what Robert Scales th e s e a re a s . 43 one or more mass casualty attacks on and Douglas Ollivant termed strategic enemy headquarters and checkpoints. killing, to spook their military ISILs Defensive Capabilities These storming tactics have been adversaries and drive out civilian For an organization that has benefited practiced and developed from the so greatly from exploiting mobility, earliest days of the ISIs rebirth in 2010, In many defensive the defense of fixed terrain presents a when al-Baghdadis first Ramadan challenge. As J.M. Berger explained, the offensive began on June 29, 2010, with environments, ISIL calculus of holding territory has now the breaching of a police checkpoint in may prefer to work in changed. Prior to the pronouncement Adhamiyah, allowing the ISI to plant [of the caliphate], [ISIL] could have its flag in central Baghdad during areas with few civilians, fallen back to its previous domain along daylight hours. 36 From the summer of perhaps because of their the border of Iraq and Syria with little 2011 onwards, these incidents became loss of face. 44 Now, as Jessica Lewis increasingly common and usually accentuated fear of local added in a separate article, to validate featured car bombs to create chaos and uprisings and informers. its statecraft, [ISIL] must further breach barriers, the attempted passage demonstrate that its physical stronghold of suicide vest attackers and gunmen is defensible, or at least prevent rival (often wearing security force uniforms) militaries from attacking it. 45 As a into the affected complexes, and hostage- populations. 39 During the initial ISIL prior CTC Sentinel piece argued, ISIL has taking to prolong the incident. 37 advance in June, the movement used the tiger by the tail now that its urban social media (i.e., mainly Twitter) to strongholds have to be defended. 46 Yet i n A l t h o u gh s uch o pening gamb its spread the word that ISIL columns u s u a l l y tar ge t one or two buildings would give no quarter to resisters but 42 To give examples from the Shi`a Shabak community w i t h a s m all num be r of devices, these that security forces could register and east of Mosul, ISIL started its campaign with a double at t ac k s ar e occas ionally much larger. repent to guarantee their safety. 40 suicide car bombing in the Shabak town of Khuzna O n A ugust 11, 2014, ISIL launched an Exemplary killings of around 100 Tappah area on June 6, the opening day of the Mosul up- of f en s i v e into Jalula that commenced security force members were conducted rising, followed by another suicide car bombing in Khuz- at Tikrit on June 11, 2014, and they na Tappah on June 26. In Bazwayah, a Shabak town of 33 Personal interview, Kurdistan region security official, were widely publicized. 41 ISIL has also 3,500 residents, 105 people were abducted between June August 14, 2014. prosecuted a determined campaign of 10 and July 18. An ISIL force of 60 vehicles entered the 34 Mohammed al-Dulaimy and Hannah Allam, Wit- ethno-sectarian cleansing in areas that Shabak town of Umarkan on July 2, burned down the lo- nesses Describe How Islamists Leveled Sunni Village as cal Shi`a shrine and a partially constructed mosque, and a Warning, McClatchy Newspapers, July 11, 2014. 38 Personal interview, Alexandre Massimo, August 12, also confiscated cars, weapons and more than 100 head 35 ISIL has significant numbers of suicide operators and 2014. of cattle. All 250 Shi`a Shabak families in the village fled car bombs to utilize in such attacks. Due largely to the 39 Scales and Ollivant, Terrorist Armies Fight Smarter immediately. All material garnered from open source influx of foreign fighters attracted by the Syrian jihad, and Deadlier Than Ever. news reporting. A good collation of new reporting and suicide operations have risen from an average of six 40 McGurk stated: The fall of Iraqs second largest city first-hand views can be found in Whitson. per month in Iraq in 2010 to an average of 43 in 2013. to ISIL was combined with a social media campaign in- 43 ISIL has cut off the water supplies to numerous mi- Car bombings rose from 10 per month in 2010 to 71 per dicating that ISIL columns would soon be heading down nority villages in the Ninawa Plains by controlling the month in 2013. See Michael Knights, The Resurgence the Tigris River Valley to Baghdad with no mercy for Salamiyya and Rashidiyya pumping stations on the Ti- of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, testimony before the House For- anyone who resisted. See McGurk, July 23, 2014. gris River, and has done so in the siege of Amerli also. eign Affairs Committee, December 12, 2013. For the full 41 Sarah Leah Whitson, Iraq: ISIS Abducting, Killing, ISIL also prevents gridded power from reaching mi- testimony, see www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/ Expelling Minorities: Armed Group Targeting Chris- nority villages. See Whitson. Also see Michael Knights, Documents/testimony/KnightsTestimony20131212.pdf. tian Nuns, Turkmen, Shabaks, Yazidis, Human Rights Iraqs City of Orphans, Foreign Policy, August 14, 2014. 36 Government reinforcements were targeted with a se- Watch, July 19, 2014. Massacre videos were also re- 44 J.M. Berger, Gambling on the Caliphate, Intelwire ries of roadside bombs. The attack, in which 23 security released at the close of the Soldiers Harvest campaign blog, June 29, 2014. personnel were killed, generated widespread publicity. on July 30, 2014. See Damien McElroy, Islamic State 45 Lewis, The Islamic State: A Counter-Strategy for a See Knights, Back with a Vengeance, p. 3. Jihadists Issue 30-Minute Killing Spree on Video, Daily Counter-State, p. 11. 37 Ibid. Telegraph, July 30, 2014. 46 Michael Knights, The ISILs Stand in the Ramadi- 4

5 august 2014 . Vol 7. Issue 8 t h e f a ce of we ak initi al counterattacks booby-trapping is undertaken in generate and disseminate images that b y t h e ISF , ISIL ha s shown itself to locations that are considered likely to compound the sense that they control b e f ai rly ade pt at d efense, revealing be retaken by security forces. 52 areas. 55 The movement issues basic s o me o f the m os t in teresting aspects instructions via billboards, leaflets and of i t s re ce nt m ilitar y evolution into a ISILs engagement with local speakerphone or mosque speakers. 56 h y b r i d ar m y. stakeholders and militants is perhaps In most places, ISIL does not issueor the most critical aspect of its defensive at least does not policethe extensive ISILs defensive playbook starts arrangements. Following the defeat Shari`a law city charters that it has with the energetic consolidation of a of al-Qa`ida in Iraq and the ISI by the introduced in its heartland cities, Raqqa defensive crust on the outer edges of Sahwa (Awakening force s) , ISIL ma y and Mosul. 57 Instead, its interactions newly-occupied areas in places where recogniz e th a t l o ca l p o p u l a ti o n s a re are practical and focused on regime an ISF or Kurdish counterattack could as great a th re a t to i ts h o l d i n g s a s security: former ISF must register be expected. ISIL has used its rough- any ext e rn a l a d v e rs a ry . A s n o te d themselves and repent, commencing and-ready field engineering skills to previousl y, I SI L s e e k s to d ri v e o u t an evaluation process whereby such quickly create extensive earth berms any non - Su n n i , n o n - A ra b p o p u l a ti o n s individuals may be recruited, taken as and ditches mirroring the enemys own from its a re a s . T h i s s e e ms to b e hostages or killed. ISIL usually already hastily-erected frontier defenses. 47 driven by ide ological justifications has some background in the area after After capturing Jalula on August 11, and by more venal considerations (such years of studying and interacting with ISIL bulldozers immediately blocked as widespread looting of villages and local communities, so its regime security key counterattack routes that the ransoming of kidnap victims), 53 but such measures are often well-informed. Kurds might use, emplacing numerous purges also have the effect of creating roadside bombs along these arteries. 48 depopulated zones. In many defensive As well as receiving individual pledges They further created a denied flank environments, from the largely emptied of allegiance, ISIL frequently absorbs on the Diyala River by destroying the Falluja city to new gains such as whole networks of militants into its Jalula-Kalar road bridge, a common Suleiman Beg, ISIL may prefer to work ranks in what might be termed as a ISIL tactic to shape local geography to in areas with few civilians, perhaps mergers and acquisitions approach, impede counterattacks or reinforcement because of their accentuated fear of with like - mi n d e d Sa l a f i st g r o u p s by enemy forces. 49 Flooding of lowlands local uprisings and informers. 54 l i k e Ja ma a t A n s a r a l - I s l a m bei n g t h e is another known tactic for denying s i mp l e s t to co n v e rt. 5 8 Ex i st i n g S a l a f i st terrain to the ISF. 50 Small numbers of Where populations are present, ISIL g ro u p s , a l o n g w i th Ge n er a l M i l i t a r y well-sited heavy weapons are deployed, is keen to overawe them and create a Council forces associated with Jaysh with anti-armor defense augmented collaborative framework for the defense Ri j a l a l - T a ri q a l - Na qs h a ba n d i (J R T N ) with single hull-down T-55 or T-62 of such areas. As Iraq insurgency a n d o th e r mi l i ta n ts , co n t r i bu t e t h e tanks, recoilless rifles, shoulder-fired expert Aymenn al-Tamimi noted, ISIL co re d e f e n s i v e ma n p o w er i n I S I L - anti-tank weapons, and, less frequently, raiders quickly raise their banners d o mi n a te d a re a s . 5 9 I SI L i s a d ep t a t guided anti-tank missiles. 51 Extensive over key administrative and security a l i g n i n g w i th tri b a l n e ed s, su c h a s headquarters and other landmarks to by plugging into the anti-Kurdish Falluja Corridor, CTC Sentinel 7:5 (2014). sentiments of Arab tribes around Jalula 47 Isabel Coles, Purge of Minorities Re-draws Iraq use is increasing in #Iraq. o r a l l o w i n g A ra b tri b e s t o h a r vest Map, Reuters, July 24, 2014. 52 ISIL uses unmanned car bombs, bicycle bombs and th e ri p e w h e a t f i e l d s o f d i sp l a c ed 48 Peshmarga Mobilize to Restore Jalawla and ISIS explosives-rigged houses. See Ruth Sherlock and Carol Sh i ` a Tu rk me n f a rme rs a t A m er l i . 60 Detained a Local Official, Shafaaq News, August 12, Malouf, Islamic State Booby Traps Massive Iraqi Dam As Aymenn al-Tamimi explained, 2014. The United States used airpower to destroy a num- Which Could Kill Thousands if Breached, Daily Tele- i n ti me th e s e a l l i e d g r o u p s bec o m e ber of IED emplacement belts around Mosul Dam on graph, August 18, 2014. mo re a n d mo re cl o s e l y a l i g n ed wi t h August 16-18, 2014. See one of these operations refer- 53 Personal interview, Yazidi civilian, August 12, 2014. I SI L, tra n s i ti o n i n g f ro m ba c ki n g t h e enced at U.S. Military Conducts Airstrikes Against ISIL Also see Whitson. There are widespread scattered refer- w i n n i n g h o r s e t o d e e pe r i d e o l o g i c a l near the Mosul Dam, U.S. Central Command, August ences in most ISIL ethnic cleansing stories to ways that 18, 2014. ISIL members make money at the sidelines of militant 55 Update On Iraqs Insurgency: Interview With Ay- 49 In general, bridge demolition has been a wide- operations, through kidnap, looting, cattle rustling and menn Jawad al-Tamimi, Musings on Iraq blog, July 1, spread part of ISILs tactical repertoire. See bribery. As such, fighters appear to be poorly paidjust 2014. ISIL Destroys 63 Bridges in Iraq This Year, al-Shorfa, $41 per month compared to $150 for a laborer, according 56 Ibid. August 7, 2014. to RANDs Patrick B. Johnstonthey have significant in- 57 Personal interview, Kurdistan journalist, August 17, 50 For commentary on Fallujas regulating dam, see centive to moonlight in this manner. See Johnston quoted 2014. Knights, The ISILs Stand in the Ramadi-Falluja Cor- in Al-Dulaimy and Allam. 58 Personal interview, Aymenn al-Tamimi, August 12, ridor. 54 Although there are numerous rumors of human 2014. 51 For a sample of the kind of light anti-tank weapons shields being present at ISIL locations, these persons, if 59 In Falluja, the author has a full seven months of case reaching Iraq, see ISIS Deploys Croatian Weapons they exist, do not seem to deter Iraqi fliers from under- study material showing how ISIL starts gently, but Against The Iraqi Army, Brown Moses Blog, March 8, taking strikes. That could change if U.S. airstrikes con- steadily degrades rival groups with which it has part- 2014. The entry shows RBG-6 grenade launchers, M60 tinue to intensify and human shields become more use- nered, in this case Hamas al-Iraq. See Knights, The and SPG-9 recoilless rifles, as well as RPG-22 rocket and ful. For an example, see ISIS Prevents Saadia Residents ISILs Stand in the Ramadi-Falluja Corridor. M79 Osa launchers. For information on guided missiles, from Leaving and Uses Them as Human Shields Against 60 Personal interview, Kurdish official from Tuz district, see Charles Listers August 9, 2014, tweet, ISIS ATGM Air Strikes, Shafaaq News, August 7, 2014. August 15, 2014. 5

6 august 2014 . Vol 7. Issue 8 r adi c a lization, adding that the longer town of A me rl i w a s s to p p e d d e a d b y of prisoner releases, prison breaks and t h ey p ut of f br e ak in g with [ISIL], the a single w e l l - p o s i ti o n e d I SI L- cre w e d recruitment, leadership casualties will m or e d iff icult it will become. 6 1 Where T-55 tan k , w h i ch s h o t u p a co n v o y nonetheless complicate their ability to t r i b a l groups have stood up to ISIL, of 250 S h i ` a mi l i ti a me n mo u n te d i n hold the initiative in the future. t h ey have pr om pted an extremely utility vehicles. 66 ag g r ess ive r e action, most notoriously Mobility and surprise have allowed at Zow iya (locate d at the junction of ISILs Key Traits and Vulnerabilities ISIL to punch well above its weight t h e T i g r is and L e sser Z ab rivers), Although ISIL has undoubtedly done in offensive operations, but these w h er e a tr ibal r e volt was b rutally much to shape its own operational advantages may also be diminishing. If pu t d o wn with the aid of unusually environment, it has nonetheless been U.S. military support for Iraq increases, sustained mortar fire and rampaging lucky to face ill-prepared opponents it will become more difficult for ISIL to ISIL troops on July 7, 2014. 62 in Iraq. The enfe e b l e d s ta te o f th e I SF achieve tactical surprise using vehicle- has magn i f i e d I SI L s re p u ta ti o n a n d mounted raiding forces. Already the W h en ISF or K ur d ish forces attack confiden ce , te mp o ra ri l y ma s k i n g i ts distinctive signature of such attacks ar ea s that IS IL has claimed, the own we a k n e s s e s a n d v u l n e r a b i l i t i e s . m ov em e nt has be e n quick to support ISIL is s ti l l ri d i n g a w a v e o f mi l i ta ry t h e l o cals with specialized capabilities. successe s , b u t i ts o p p o n e n ts a re Yet the pace of the war E x p er ie nce d ISIL a nti-armor teams recoveri n g and d ra w i n g upon against ISIL is accelerating, have achieved some spectacular results increasin g i n t ernational support. w h e n tank-stalking. For instance, Its offensive power has tended to and the groups ability i n H u m ayr ah, ne ar Ramadi, an Iraqi diminish as it approaches majority to continually shape and A r m y probe was de cimated on April Shi`a or Kurdish-populated areas. 67 Momentum has tremendous value in control the conflict will be The enfeebled state of the war, but it is fragile, and ISIL may sorely tested. be forced to gradually surrender the ISF has magnified ISILs strategic initiative in Iraq, as it has done on individual Iraqi battlefields reputation and confidence, such as Kirkuk, which held against ISIL has wrought disaster for ISIL attacks. temporarily masking thrusts in mid-June, 68 and Makhmour, In Tuz Khurmatu, for example, ISIL which was retaken from ISIL on convoys sought to penetrate the city its own weaknesses and August 10. 69 The groups leadership is using night movements on August 9 vulnerabilities. clearly comprised of talented deliberate and August 13, but were detected by the planners, capable of crafting far-sighted U.S. military, which provided Kurdish political-military campaigns that are artillery with the coordinates required resilient enough to survive the deaths of to blunt the attacks. 71 Many islands 2 0, 2 014 , w ith the loss of an entire their progenitors. 70 Yet the pace of the of government or Kurdish control are m i x ed platoon of T-6 2 tanks and MTLB war against ISIL is accelerating, and the being consolidated as launch-pads for ar m or e d ve hicle s . 63 In Tikrit, ISIL led groups ability to continually shape and future operations under the watchful a s pectacular s e r ie s of amb ushes and control the conflict will be sorely tested. gaze of U.S. intelligence, surveillance s uic ide b o m bings against hasty and ill- Although they may boast a deep bench and reconnaissance (ISR) assets. 72 c on c eiv e d e ff or ts by the Iraqi Army of talented individuals following years ISIL will undoubtedly try to retain the t o t ak e the tow n on J uly 1 6, 201 4. 6 4 initiative with strategic gambits, but A t J a lula, ISIL has been fighting a 66 Knights, Iraqs City of Orphans. attacking is becoming harder for the g r i t t y s tr e e t-by-s tr eet battle against 67 Pollack. movement. This may cause it to fall back K u r di sh s pe cial forces, armor and 68 Isabel Coles, On Edge of Kirkuk, Peshmerga Prepare on older approaches such as the largely a r t i l l ery, and ISIL led the powerful to Fight Again for Kurdistan, Reuters, June 19, 2014. dismounted storming attacks and l o c a l counterattacks that restored all The Kurds fought hard near Mullah Abdulla power sta- suicide vest operations used in Jalula t h e l o s t ne ig hbor hoods to insurgent tion to prevent an ISIL exploitation toward Kirkuk city. on August 11 and in other commuter c on t r o l on A ug us t 1 1 , 201 4. 6 5 An 69 Iraqi Kurds Retake 2 Towns from Militants, Helped insurgencies such as Ramadi and A u g u st 8 e ff or t to r e lieve the besieged by U.S. Airstrikes, CBS News, August 10, 2014. Large Baghdad. 73 numbers of other articles cite examples from Zummar, 61 Personal interview, Aymenn al-Tamimi, August 12, Mosul Dam, and the Ninawa Plains. For a selection, see 71 Personal interview, Kurdish official from Tuz district, 2014. Jessica Lewis, Lauren Squires, and Nichole Dicharrys August 15, 2014. 62 Al-Dulaimy and Allam. reporting from August 13-17, 2014, at www.iswiraq. 72 These include the Bayji oil refinery and numerous fa- 63 Knights, The ISILs Stand in the Ramadi-Falluja Cor- blogspot.com. cilities at Haditha; the Iraqi base at Tikrit air base (the old ridor. 70 For commentary on the May 2014 death of Abdul Forward Operating Base Speicher); areas of Sinjar and 64 Alissa Rubin and Suadad al-Salhy, For Iraq, Debacle Rahman al-Bilawi, al-Baghdadis military chief of staff Mosul; and key government and air transportation sites in Tikrit as Forces Walk Into Trap Set by Militants, New for Iraq, see Sherlock. ISILs senior military commander, in Baghdad. York Times, July 16, 2014. Haji Bakr, was likewise killed in northern Syria in early 73 The commuter insurgency refers to an urban fight 65 20 Peshmerga Killed and Wounded in Suicide At- January 2014. See Bill Roggio, ISIS Confirms Death of in which insurgents travel in each day, like suburban tack in Jalawla, Diyala Province, NINA Agency, August Senior Leader in Syria, The Long War Journal, February commuters, from support zones on the outskirts. Coined 11, 2014. 5, 2014. by U.S. forces in Iraq, the concept is explained further in 6

7 august 2014 . Vol 7. Issue 8 D ef en se m ay als o become harder for t h e g r oup as the ISF and Kurdish forces e s c a l a te their offensive operations. D r a w i n g toge the r the views of various ex per ts , IS IL s e e m s to have a Tigris v a l l ey - bas e d off e nsive strike force ( v i s i b l e at M os ul, Tall Afar, and Tikrit) pl u s ancillar y s tr ike forces in the w es t ern E uphr ate s valley bordering S y r i a and anothe r around J alula and adj a c e nt par ts of the Hamrin mountain r an g e. Ye t the s e m obile elements are p r o b a bly small, numbering less than 3, 00 0 f ig hte r s , w h ile the majority of I S I L s de fe ns ive manpower, tied t o s p ecific ar e as , is made up of new r ec r u i ts and allied movements. 7 4 A l t h o u gh IS IL has momentum and these allies s e e m s o lidly b ehind the g r ou p , if the m ilitary tide begins to t u r n , par ticular ly whilst the cement i s s t i l l setting on ISILs relationships, t h e r e could be a dramatic reduction in t h e g r o ups e f f e ctive strength. Already IS I L is be ing for ced to relinquish multiple townsMakhmour, Saadiyya, M u q d adiyah, Zummar, Bashiqa, B a r t e l la, Qara Qosh and the pace of oper a tions is acce le rating. 7 5 If the ISF an d K u r dis h for ce s un dertake selective of f en s i v e ope r ations on a widening n u m b er of battle f ie lds, the ISIL-led def en s e w ill undoubtedly become s t r et c he d, par ticula rly if its ability t o m ove and mass counterattacking f o r c e s is limited. ISIL could morph b a c k into rural insurgents operating l a r g el y outs ide the cities once again. Dr. Michael Knights is the Lafer Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He has worked in all of Iraqs provinces, including periods embedded with the Iraqi security forces. Dr. Knights has been briefing U.S. officials on the resurgence of Al-Qa`ida in Iraq since 2012 and provided congressional testimony on the issue in December 2013. He has written on militancy in Iraq for the CTC Sentinel since 2008. David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 142. 74 See aforementioned conversations with Aymenn al- Tamimi and Aaron Zelin, plus the views of Dr. Hisham al-Hashimi, via Sherlock. 75 For a selection, see Jessica Lewis, Lauren Squires, and Nichole Dicharrys reporting from August 13-17, 2014 at www.iswiraq.blogspot.com. 7

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