Here is an excerpt from yesterday's briefing by MNF—Iraq spokesman, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch in which he discusses foreign fighters, suicide attacks, border security, defeating IEDs, weapons caches discovered & Iraqis providing the coalition solid intel. For the rest of the briefing, go here.
I want to talk about four specific indicators on operations here in Iraq, and I don't want to talk about what happened yesterday. I want to talk over a period of time to give you a sense of the trend lines that we see.
And these are four that I've talked to you about before, but allow me to give you an update.
We believe that 90 percent of the suicide attacks in Iraq are conducted by foreign fighters —— al Qaeda, Zarqawi commissioning foreign fighters to conduct these suicide attacks.
Last year this time, across Iraq, we were averaging about 75 suicide attacks a day. Now we're averaging about 24 a day.
One of the reasons for that drawdown is not that Zarqawi and al Qaeda doesn't want to do it anymore, but effective border operations have been capturing foreign nationals at the border.
And I talked you through last week in great detail what's happened on the Iraqi border. Last November the Iraqi government declared initial control of the borders, and over time they've placed Department of Border Enforcement personnel —— 20,000 people, on the borders, 258 border camps —— to stop this flow of foreign nationals into Iraq, some of which are coming in to be used as suicide bombers.
So if you look closely at what's happened, just before the first of the year, we were averaging about 44 captured foreign nationals per month, and now we're down to less than half of that.
The effect of that is reduction in the number of suicide attacks in Iraq: over 70 a year ago, 24 now.
I talked about IEDs and IEDs that are found and cleared. We have reached the point where almost 50 percent of the IEDs are found and cleared before they detonate. And people say, "Well, why is that?" A reason why that is, is the number of sophisticated bomb—makers we've been able to take off the battlefield here in Iraq.
There are indeed with —— people with talent and capability that can build a reliable IED, one that will function as designed. What we've been doing is a conscious effort with the Iraqi security forces to take those guys off the battlefield and either kill or capture them. And you can see that we took over —— took out 115 in the year 2005. And since the first of the year, we've taken out an additional 26.
The effect of that is, IEDs are produced that are less effective. And in many cases, we're finding the people that are emplacing the IEDs are killed by their own IEDs, or the IEDs that are emplaced don't go off as detonated. And that's because of the conscious decision to kill or capture bomb—makers.
I talk every Thursday about the weapons caches and weapons finds. And if you looked over the years 2005, we came across 2,880 weapons caches and since the first of the year almost 900 weapons caches.
Again, this goes to the effectiveness of the insurgents. In order to be able to create effective IEDs, he's got to have technical expertise, and he's got to have the proper munitions. A lot of these weapons caches we found had old munitions, but a lot of them had relatively new munitions that could build an effective bomb.
So as we look for bomb—makers and as we look for weapons caches to this level of effect, we are reducing the effectiveness of IEDs, VBIEDs and suicide car bombs, suicide vest packs, and also by taking out foreign nationals as they come across.
But I believe that the most important indicator on these charts, on this quad chart, is this one. And that's the number of tips, actionable tips, that we are receiving from the people of Iraq. They have indeed reached the point where they're tired of the insurgency, and they realize that they are indeed the target of attacks by the insurgency. The numbers of attacks against civilians, as I told you before, has doubled in the last four months, is up by 86 percent just in the last nine weeks.
So the people of Iraq are tired of the insurgency.
And what they're doing is calling in actionable tips or providing tips to the 250,000 members of the Iraqi security force that are patrolling the streets of Iraq. They're providing the information just like they did the IED on the mosque —— and I showed you that operation with the 6th Iraqi Army Division.
John B. Dwyer 4 21 06