Iraqi security forces round up homeless to thwart new terror tactic

Apparently using mentally impaired women to unwittingly carry bombs wasn’t quite low enough for the terrorists in Iraq. Iraqi security forces are now trying to head off the next gambit: Homeless bombers.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry has ordered police to round up beggars, vagabonds and mentally disabled people from the streets of Baghdad to prevent them from being used by insurgents as suicide bombers, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The decision came after a series of suicide attacks, including two female bombers who struck pet markets in Baghdad on Feb. 1, killing nearly 100 people. Iraqi and U.S. officials have said the women were mentally disabled and apparently unwitting bombers.

The people detained in the Baghdad sweep will be handed over to governmental institutions that can provide shelter and care for them, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said.

“This will be implemented nationwide starting today,” Khalaf told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.

“Militant groups, like al-Qaeda in Iraq, have started exploiting these people in a very bad manner to kill innocents because they do not raise suspicions,” Khalaf said. “These groups are either luring those who are desperate for money to help them in their attacks or making use of their poor mental condition to use them as suicide bombers.”

There are a lot of homeless and displaced people in Baghdad. Most of them aren’t vagabonds as we think of them; they have been displaced by pre-war economics or strife, or by factors associated with the war itself. The displaced population has long made for a potential tenderbox that the Iraqi government hasn’t done enough to take care of.

That al Qaeda would come up with this strategy of using mentally impaired people and street beggars speaks both to the group’s total depravity and to its desperation. Martyrdom operations are supposed to be a quick, sure ticket to paradise stocked with virgins. It must be hard out there for a suicide bomber recruiter if they can’t find any more willing killers.