Iraqi Kurds thwart Al Hol terrorism plot on Erbil

Kurdish Regional Government PM says months-long operation foiled terrorist cell plotting to attack capital

May 15, 2011, Erbil, Iraq:

Masrour Barzani is director of security and intelligence in Kurdistan Iraq, a ranking member of the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), and a current member of the coalition government.  A former Peshmurga fightet, Mr. Barzani is the son of Kurdistan's current President, Massoud Barzani, and the grandson of Mustafah Barzani, widely known here as the "father of Kurdistan" . 

As a Peshmurga (which in Kurdish means those who face death) Mr. Barzani fought in the battle of Khwakurk and was key in the 1991 uprisings against Saddam. He is well known for his films of those uprisings and for his fight for women's rights in the region. 

Lee Hoagland/The National 

Kurdistan Kurd
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Kurdish authorities in Iraq have foiled an ISIS plot, originating in Al Hol internment camp in neighbouring Syria, to attack the city of Erbil.

Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government, said that a months-long operation had foiled a terrorist cell plotting to attack the capital city.

Mr Barzani said the plot had originated in the controversial Al Hol camp.

“I am deeply concerned that our intelligence points to ISIS operating from Al Hol camp, indicating the group is still capable of crossing borders illegally,” he said.

The cell consisted of five people who had crossed into the Kurdistan region after being smuggled out of Syria, local media reported.

They travelled through Turkey and Iran before reaching northern Iraq, reports said.

The plot involved silenced weapons and bombs, and the group was reportedly acting under orders from ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim Al Qurashi.

Al Hol is a former refugee camp where thousands of Syrian and foreign nationals with links to ISIS are held.

Kurdish security sources confirmed to The National that the cell members were was arrested in Erbil province, in northern Iraq.

Almost 70,000 people were herded into Al Hol from Baghouz, the border town where ISIS made its last stand more than two years ago.

Among them were tens of thousands of foreign nationals from dozens of countries as far afield as the UK and Australia.

International governments have been reluctant to take back their nationals, leaving Syrian Kurdish authorities overwhelmed with tens of thousands of alleged ISIS members in custody, along with women and children.

Violent murders in the camp since the start of the year has left Kurdish authorities begging the international community to help deal with the camp.

Those sympathetic to ISIS openly enforce the group’s extreme interpretation of Sharia in the camp, while hundreds are believed to have escaped.

Yet despite the violence, the Erbil plot is believed to be the first case of Al Hol serving as a base for international terror attacks.

Mr Barzani’s claims the plot originated in the camp are likely to increase pressure on the international community to deal with it.

This month, more than 6,000 heavily armed Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers conducted a major security operation in the camp, in which dozens of arrests were made and hundreds of mobile phones seized.