500 Convicts, Including Senior Al Qaeda Members, Escape From Iraq Jail

25 members of Iraqi security forces and ten militants were killed after allies of the jailed men launched military-style attacks on two jails, according to reports. Inmates only escaped from one jail.

1. The Abu Ghraib prison, now renamed Baghdad Central Prison and run by Iraqis in Baghdad, was the target of attacks by militants who freed their allies through attacks using car bombs, mortars and machine guns, officials said.

Karim Kadim, File / AP

2. According to Reuters, senior members of Al Qaeda escaped during the attack.

Suicide bombers drove cars packed with explosives to the gates of the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad on Sunday night and blasted their way into the compound, while gunmen attacked guards with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Other militants took up positions near the main road, fighting off security reinforcements sent from Baghdad as several militants wearing suicide vests entered the prison on foot to help free the inmates.


BuzzFeed News

@BuzzFeedNews

“The number of escaped inmates has reached 500, most of them were convicted senior members of al Qaeda…” http://t.co/NKGcZK6XC5

4. Jane Arraf with Al Jazeera International and Christian Science Monitor was in Baghdad as the events unfolded.


jane arraf

@janearraf

Attack in progress at #Iraq Abu Ghraib, Taji prisons. Gunmen with RPGs, mortars launch raid, spark riots. Army troops, helicopters sent.


jane arraf

@janearraf

#Iraqi security officials tell parliamentary committee 500 prisoners, including 20 AQI leaders, escaped in Abu Ghraib attack overnight.

#Iraqi security forces still surround area around Abu Ghraib prison after al-Qaeda prison break overnight as army searchs for escapees.

— jane arraf (@janearraf)

jane arraf

@janearraf

#Iraqi security forces still surround area around Abu Ghraib prison after al-Qaeda prison break overnight as army searchs for escapees.

Abu Ghraib escapees include 4 al-Qaeda emirs, #Iraq security officials tell parliament committee. Now more than 50 dead in 2 prison attacks.

— jane arraf (@janearraf)

jane arraf

@janearraf

Abu Ghraib escapees include 4 al-Qaeda emirs, #Iraq security officials tell parliament committee. Now more than 50 dead in 2 prison attacks.

8. There were signs attacks on the jails were coming.

Mohammed Ameen / Reuters

9. Exactly one year ago, al Qaeda’s Iraq arm launched a campaign called “Breaking the Walls” that made freeing its imprisoned members a top priority, the Associated Press reports:

A surge of violence across Iraq has killed more than 3,000 people since the start of April, and the assaults on the prisons laid bare the degree to which security has eroded in the country in recent months. The spike in bloodshed is intensifying fears of a return to the widespread sectarian killing that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

10. There are questions about the events that preceded the attack as well.

Did 1 of #Iraq's top generals quit in protest hours before Abu Ghraib attack in his area? Officials trying to confirm Facebook resignation.

— jane arraf (@janearraf)

jane arraf

@janearraf

Did 1 of #Iraq’s top generals quit in protest hours before Abu Ghraib attack in his area? Officials trying to confirm Facebook resignation.

11. Investigations are underway about how the attacks were orchestrated. Officials believe there was help from the inside.

Reuters

12. From the AP:

So many prisoners were able to get away from Abu Ghraib because they were in the prison yard for the communal iftar meal that ends the daylong fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, said a senior intelligence official and two other government officials. They also confirmed the number of escaped inmates and said an investigation has now been launched into who ordered the open-air Ramadan feast.

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Adrian Carrasquillo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at adrian.c@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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