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July Today in Terrorism

July 16, 2005: Suicide bombers create deadly inferno in Iraq

On July 16, 2005 a suicide bomber attacked a crowded market in a town south of Baghdad, killing 100 and wounding 150.

MUSAYYIB, IRAQ – Sometimes even the most carefully planned attack benefits from sheer dumb luck.

One thing about terrorism that has always bugged me is the idea that some (many?) have is that terrorists are so organised and have everything planned down to the last detail. It is as if we see these actors as masterminds who are all-knowing and all-powerful, capable of coming up with dastardly ideas beyond the ken of mere mortals. Think Dr. Evil.

You puny humans are no match for my superiority! (Photo: New Line Cinema)

In reality, most terrorists, at least based on my work in Islamist extremism in Canada in the 2000s and 2010s while at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), could not arrange the proverbial piss-up in a bar. They are anything BUT super beings.

The bottom line is that a lot of luck is involved, kinda like life in general. Take today’s featured attack.

On this day in 2005

A suicide bomber detonated his deadly load in a crowded market in Musayyib, a town 35 miles south of Baghdad. While the initial casualty toll was bad enough, the attack occurred just as a tanker containing cooking gas was passing, triggering an inferno that destroyed dozens of buildings, including a nearby Shiite mosque where worshipers were emerging from evening prayers. In the end 100 were killed and 150 injured in the blast.

Anyone who does such evil acts against the innocent people does not have any religion or humanity. 

Eye witness

It is highly unlikely that the terrorist knew of the presence of the fuel-laden truck (I suppose it is possible he did but…). What was already a heinous act of violence that killed and maimed far too many innocent people morphed into a major act of terrorism.

Had the truck been at the scene a minute before or a minute after the death count would have been much lower. The terrorist just got lucky, that’s all.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Programme Director for the Security, Economics and Technology (SET) hub at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of five books on terrorism.

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