November 14, 2012: Multiple attacks in Iraq on Islamic new year

On November 14, 2012 ISI planted three bombs simultaneously in Kirkuk, killing at least five people in one of several violent incidents on the Islamic new year

KIRKUK AND HILLA, IRAQ – New Year’s Eve celebrations may be over the top but killing to mark the turnover the calendar is too much.

Do you celebrate New Year’s? I have never tended to, even when I was young. It is not that I am a prude or anything: I enjoy a pint of beer or a glass of wine (or even better a wee bit o’ scotch) as much as the next person! But I never found going out to a restaurant/bar, paying exorbitant prices and finding myself surrounded by a lot of very drunk people was my kind of thing in all honesty.

Not that there is anything really wrong with it of course. It is a seminal event for those who use the Western calendar. A change into a new year with all the promises it contains (not to mention resolutions that tend to last three weeks at best). Janus looking back and forward at the same time.

Here’s to 19…wait what year are we in??” (Photo: simpleinsomnia on flickr, CC BY 2.0)

It should not be surprising to anyone that terrorists see New Year’s as a prime target for obvious reasons: big crowds packed all together make for large casualty counts and maximum media coverage. Significant attacks planned and/or realised include Istanbul in 2017, Munich in 2015 and the so-called ‘Millennium bomber‘ (a Canadian, Ahmed Ressam) in 1999 (for more on him check out my latest book The Peaceable Kingdom).

And it is not just the Western new year that is targeted.

On this day in 2012

Islamic State in Iraq (ISI – a precursor to ISIS) planted three bombs which were detonated simultaneously in Kirkuk, killing at least five people in one of several violent incidents. Among the other attacks were a car bomb aimed at an army patrol in the predominantly Sunni town of Hawija, killing at least four people; a vehicle packed with explosives near a girls’ secondary school and a crowded poultry market, leaving at least six people dead and dozens wounded, among them reportedly schoolchildren in the town of Hilla, south of Baghdad; and one person killed and at least six wounded in a series of blasts in Baghdad.

My child was killed! His friends were killed! There is no security here, our homes were destroyed!


The bombings occurred on the eve of the Islamic new year and the holy month of Muharram, a date important on the Shia Muslim religious calendar. That the Sunni ISI killed predominantly Shia is not out of the ordinary. All this just goes to underscore that terrorists seek any excuse to kill and maim to grab our attention.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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