March 15, 2015

Anatomy of an ISIS suicide attack on an Iraqi target

ISIS suicide attack in al-Ramadi, Iraq

The following series of photographs are from an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attack on an Iraqi police SWAT headquarters in al-Ramadi, Iraq, mounted on Friday, March 13. These photographs were posted on several ISIS-affiliated Twitter and Facebook pages.

The post details a well-planned and executed attack on what ISIS describes as an Iraqi SWAT headquarters. It was one of many attacks launched by ISIS over the last week in al-Ramadi in a possible attempt to divert Iraqi military and police resources from the fighting in Tikrit. Dozens of suicide attackers have sacrificed their lives in the last few days.

The target of the attack was a tall building located on al-Mustawda' Street in the Andulus section of al-Ramadi, across the street from the al-Maqbulah mosque. The mosque is the building with the blue dome in the above photograph.

In this satellite image, the mosque is in yellow and the target building in the red box. The first attack - the diversion - came from the east along the street just north of the mosque, with the two main attacks coming up the main road from the south.

The attack

I will not dignify this attack by using the attackers' names, only their nationalities.

The first suicide attacker, probably an Algerian, sets off in the direction of the target. He will be heading for the barricade on the east side of the street north of the mosque.

The second attacker in a homemade armored truck packed with explosives is moving from the south on al-Mustawda' Street toward the barricade blocking the street to open the way for the third attacker who is behind him.

The second attacker, a Syrian, in his explosive-laden vehicle.

The second attacker has opened the way and is headed for the second line of defense.

The second attacker crashed through the second line of defense, while to the left, the first attacker moves into his position. Smoke from gunfire is visible as the Iraqi SWAT members attempt to stop the attackers.

The third attacker, a Jordanian, drives his explosive laden red truck into the breach created by the second attacker.

An Iraqi SWAT member (in left red box) hits on the third attacker's vehicle with a rocket.

The first attacker detonates his explosives.

The second attacker detonates his explosives.

The third attacker detonates his explosives.

The aftermath

The building is completely destroyed. The Iraqi press has reported the attack but have not released the number of casualties.

These attacks are devastating, hard to defend against, and indicate the level of commitment of the recruits ISIS is able to attract.