ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Ministry of Interior has issued a warning to Baghdad’s security forces of a possible terrorist attack by the Islamic State in response to the recent mass shooting that resulted in the deaths of at least 49 people attending mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, a classified document shows.
“It is possible that [ISIS] will carry out an attack targeting churches, especially the Saidat al-Najat Church in Baghdad…as revenge for the attack carried out against the mosques in New Zealand,” read a document distributed among the capital’s various security bodies, issued by the Directorate General for the Protection of Facilities and Personalities of the Iraqi ministry of interior, a copy of which Kurdistan 24 received.
The document was dated March 19, the same day the Islamic State published a 44-minute-long recording, urging supporters to launch attacks in all the countries that took part in fighting its organization, invoking the Christchurch attack to incite retaliatory violence.
This was just days ahead of the terrorist group’s complete territorial collapse in Syria, as announced by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), following the liberation of the last small patch of land in the now infamous village of Baghouz, near the Iraqi border and on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.
The document called on the security forces to maintain vigilance and patch security gaps to thwart possible attempts on the places of worship, notably the Saidat al-Najat, or “Our Lady of Deliverance.”
The parishioners of this church have previously been subject to violence, namely in 2010 when gunmen of the Islamic State’s progenitor stormed the building and took hostage worshipers.
The Iraqi forces attempted a rescue operation but as they raided the building the suicide bombers among the terrorists promptly detonated and killed around 40 members of the church and close to 10 security forces officers.
In 2014, when the Islamic State proper rose to prominence in Iraq, tens of thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes, with many seeking refuge in the Kurdistan Region. The extremist group killed Christian civilians, forced some to convert to Islam, and destroyed or desecrated churches in cities like Mosul, which it controlled for years.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany