Five Islamic State (ISIS) suspects were arrested in Erbil who were allegedly planning to carry out terrorist attacks in the city before Eid al-Adha, the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) announced on Tuesday.
“The directorate general of counter-terrorism arrested a terrorist group who was planning to carry out terrorist attacks before Eid al-Adha,” the Security Council said in a video it published, adding that the group’s main target was the governorate’s building and a “place with a number of foreigners.”
The group had picked out different places in the city and were planning to conduct a “suicide attack” in the governorate’s building located in the city center, according to KRSC.
“I joined the group in 2021 through Abu Sara,” Abdulrahman Alaa who is known by the name Wisam in the group said in a confession video.
“Abu Sara asked me to conduct a security attack in Erbil, and I agreed. He [Abu Sara] then introduced me to an ISIS security official and then he [Abu Humam] asked me to find and specify some administrative and security areas in the city,” he added.
Abu Humam is an ISIS security official that directed all five members to conduct the attacks in Erbil before Eid al-Adha.
Mazin Diyab, another member of the group, arrived in the city by the end of May where he met with Wisam.
“We went to the places that Wisam had selected, and then we chose the governorate building as a target,” Diyab said in the video. “Then we decided to go to places that had foreigners.”
“Abu Humam asked Wisam to find a place to hide the things at, and because Wisam lives in a farm on the outskirts of Erbil he said he would keep them there,” Diyab added.
In June, Diyab met another member of the group and they went for multiple walks to monitor the governorate building in Erbil. They designated the building’s main gate as a target for the attack.
Mustafa Abdulnasr, known as Ayub, joined the group earlier this year through ISIS member Abu Hafsa who later introduce him to the official Abu Humam.
“Abu Humam asked me to meet someone called Abu Awad, and I met him in Erbil,” Ayub said. “We monitored the governorate building for the last time at the end of June and we sent all the details, the number of guards, coordinates of the site, and photos to Abu Humam.”
The group was expected to receive smuggled weapons and explosives through Syria as well as the suicide bomber.
“We were arrested before the smuggling operation,” all five members said.
Although ISIS was territorially defeated in Iraq in 2017, remnants of the terror group remain active across the country, particularly in areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil.
Several ISIS suspects have recently been arrested across the Kurdistan Region, including in Erbil.
Another suspect was arrested in the city last week. He was planning to launch an attack against the counterterrorism headquarters in the city.