Sadly, terrorist attacks and suicide bombers have become an all-too common occurrence in Iraq, but thanks to the selfless sacrifice of one brave man, Monday’s attack had much lower casualties than it could have.
Najih Shaker Al-Baldawi, a resident of the Iraqi city of Balad, prevented an ISIS suicide bomber from entering a crowded mosque. The bomber attempted to blow up Balad’s Sayyed Mohammad Shrine, but Najih grabbed the bomber and hugged him preventing him from entering the mosque. While the bomber’s suicide vest did go off, killing Najih and 36 others, the death toll could have been much higher if not for Najih’s sacrifice.
— Mohammed Al-Hilli (@malhilli) July 8, 2016
Reports indicate that, in addition to the 37 dead, there were 70 wounded in the attack. The bombers disguised themselves as local militia and attempted to destroy one of Iraq’s most important Shia shrines. In the late 1990s, a similar attack was one of the sparks that led to the Iraqi Civil War, but Najih’s sacrifice ensured that the shrine was not damaged.
This attack comes only a few days after a terrorist attack in Baghdad’s Karrada section left 300 people dead and many others injured. The Baghdad attack is the deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history, since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The Baghdad bombing is significant in part due to the fact that it is one of the more diverse parts of the cities with Christians and Muslims living together.
Both the attack in Baghdad and Balad highlight the growing tensions in the region and may be a sign ISIS is preparing for another push to regain lost territory. In the wake of these attacks, the U.S. is sending nearly 600 troops to capture the city of Mosul, ISIS’s last major stronghold in the country. Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, said these troops will play a critical role in taking back Mosul.
‘These additional US forces will bring unique capabilities to the campaign and provide critical enabler support to Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight. Iraqi security forces, accompanied and advised by us as needed, will complete the southernmost envelopment of Mosul. That’s its strategic role, and that’s its strategic importance.’
A video of the attack can be seen here:
Featured Image via Twitter