Iraq News
Security

Telephone tip-offs save Iraqi lives, officials say

By Hassan al-Obaidi in Baghdad

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Iraqi schoolboys walk past damaged houses in Mosul's Old City on October 4th. Iraqis in formerly ISIS-controlled areas have been encouraged to report any suspicious activity to help with the restoration of security. [Zaid al-Obeidi/AFP]

Telephone tip-offs to the security authorities have saved the lives of hundreds of civilians, Iraqi officials told Diyaruna, noting that a steady increase in intelligence received from the public has led to tangible results.

Of the roughly 200 phone calls made to Anbar security hotlines since early September, 76 have led to the apprehension of terror cells, arrests and the thwarting of various types of attacks, Interior Ministry officials said.

In total, the ministry said, six terror cells have been dismantled as a result of the tip-offs, the smallest of which comprised five militants.

Four suicide attacks and 22 attacks involving car bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been thwarted, and security forces have seized two weapon depots and a workshop for the manufacture of explosives, it said.

"Local residents in all cities and villages are more co-operative with us," said Col. Ahmed Khalil al-Dulaimi, head of the Anbar Police Command's information analysis unit.

"The number of phone tips we used to receive in a week, we now receive in one day, at times," he told Diyaruna, with local residents "volunteering to report anything they see as being suspicious".

"These phone tips have saved the lives of hundreds of innocent people who would have been killed in terrorist attacks, had they not been reported about and thwarted by the police," he added.

Callers save lives

"First and foremost, we protect the identity of the caller, and this is sacrosanct to us," al-Dulaimi said, describing the reporting mechanism.

"We have specialists who know how to receive information," he said, and who question the callers in such a way that all relevant details are collected regarding the who, what, when and where of the reported incident.

The information is then transferred to an intelligence committee, which classifies the information as critical, extremely critical or non-critical, he said.

"The information is acted upon in every case by security forces or the unit closest to the area identified in the report," al-Dulaimi said.

In cases where the information provided is determined to have prevented a terrorist attack, callers have been given rewards, he said, noting that even in these cases, "we still keep their names secret".

Thwarted terror attacks

Mosul residents also have been co-operating with the police and army, "and their tips have to date helped thwart a considerable number of attacks and led to the arrest of terrorists", said Ninawa police chief Brig. Gen. Hamad Namis al-Jubury.

"At least 80 terrorists and suspects have been arrested in Mosul, Hammam al-Alil, al-Baaj, Tal Afar and Ninawa Plains based on information provided by residents," he told Diyaruna.

"The noose gets tighter around ISIS remnants when residents step up their co-operation with us," he added.

Iraqis despise ISIS and all that reminds them of the group, Ramadi resident Salem Abdullah Matar told Diyaruna.

"I am not afraid to report them and will not hesitate to do so," he said. "I have memorized the faces of a number of them who made us suffer, deprived us of life, destroyed our homes and robbed us of three years of our lives."

"One of ISIS’s most prominent terrorists, who is currently in our custody and will be referred to the judiciary in a few days, was arrested based on a tip from his cousin," said Capt. Faisal al-Obeidi of the Salaheddine police.

People have been tipping off the authorities about their wayward and extremist relatives not for the reward, but to rid the area, country and world of the destructive ideology they espouse, he told Diyaruna.

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