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Iraq: Mixed Reactions by Nasiriyah Tribes over Activist's Kidnapping, ICTS Deployment

Iraq: Mixed Reactions by Nasiriyah Tribes over Activist's Kidnapping, ICTS Deployment

Thursday, 24 September, 2020 - 04:45
Iraqi Special Forces soldiers walk on a street in Mosul | REUTERS

Mystery still shrouds the case of Sajjad al-Iraqi, an activist who was kidnapped last Saturday by a group of gunmen in the southern Dhi Qar province, Iraq. His predicament has transformed into a security and social crisis that shook the Levantine nation.


In Nasiriyah, where al-Iraqi was kidnapped, tribal chiefs were conflicted over Baghdad dispatching anti-terrorism forces to look for the abducted activist and to arrest the perpetrators. Some welcomed the initiative, while others rejected it.


Despite security taskforces having identifying the abductors, locating their residences and issuing arrest warrants for two of them, no tangible progress was made on the case.


Security and anti-terrorism forces led raids and inspections in Nasiriyah, but with no avail. This has majorly embarrassed the Iraqi government which assigned its top security body, the Iraqi counter-terrorism service (ICTS), to the task.


Over the last two days, outspoken criticism was leveled against the government’s decision to deploy ICTS units to search for al-Iraqi. Many warned that the body’s combative reputation may get hurt if it fails in locating al-Iraqi.


On Tuesday, Nasiriyah-based Al-Asakira tribe demanded the government and ICTS present a formal apology for raiding the house of their chief, Kathem al-Shabram.


Al-Asakira also called for freezing raids and helicopter operations conducted over their tribal territory in search of al-Iraqi and kidnappers.


Even though Al-Asakira’s demands were met with vocal sarcasm, many anti-government armed factions and groups warned against the possibility of internal conflict breaking out and escalating into a full-fledged civil war.


Political sources in Baghdad, however, confirmed that the ICTS had returned its operations to Nasiriyah center and has withdrawn from tribal territory at the outer skirts of the city.


ICTS Chief Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, on Wednesday, confirmed that the security taskforce is working on locating al-Iraqi.


“The primary goal being worked on by the ICTS is the search for Sajjad al-Iraqi,” Saadi told Nasiriyah Radio.


“ICTS units and local police departments are all working to implement the law,” he added, confirming that it is unacceptable to undermine their work.


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