Kurdistan Region security forces prevent sabotage attacks

In recent days the security forces have carried out operations against security threats in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Two specific sets of planned attacks, including one set by the PKK, were uncovered and prevented through the close coordination of police, security, intelligence and counter-terrorism officials across the Kurdistan Region. Some of those responsible had ties to, and may have been directed by, individuals based outside Iraq, including in Europe.

Those who were the targets of the attacks have been informed and all necessary countermeasures and precautions have been taken to guarantee the safety of diplomats and foreign businesspeople in the Kurdistan Region.

A number of arrests have been made by the Kurdistan Region’s police and security forces, following detailed and lengthy investigations. We will be seeking further assistance from international law enforcement partners through Interpol. We hope this will lead to additional arrests in due course.

The first case involved at least 12 suspects with links to the PKK, as well as a number of other persons of interest based in other countries, including in Europe. The suspects planned to attack a foreign diplomatic mission in Erbil; assassinate members of that foreign mission; and carry out attacks on private companies from that country operating in the Kurdistan Region. They also planned an attack on a major western brand in Kurdistan. The group was observed and then intercepted by the security forces, in an operation lasting over four months, saving numerous lives. Several arrests have been made, including of two Syrian nationals. It is likely more arrests will follow. The suspects will be charged in due course under Article 1 of Law 21 (2003).

The second case has seen eight arrests, all Iraqi citizens, during an operation lasting over a year. The group planned to assassinate a KRG governor, and to carry out other acts of violence in the Kurdistan Region in general and in Duhok province in particular. The group also planned to target government bodies and property through attacks to undermine national security and KRG’s security services. Formal charges under Article 1 of Law 21 (2003) will soon be laid against the individuals concerned.

A third group has been intercepted as a result of an ongoing counter-intelligence operation lasting over a year. Seven suspects have been arrested under Article 1 of Law 21 (2003) by the police, who were operating with search and arrest warrants. All are Iraqi citizens and more arrests may follow. Intelligence gathered so far indicates that this group was part of a network established several years ago to collect information on the KRG’s intelligence and military services, buildings and employees. The group also collected information as part of a plan to attack a senior intelligence official and a sitting judge. The group has shared information with other parties, including with PKK. We are briefing relevant foreign governments and intelligence services on this operation and the information we have uncovered.

These operations show both the ongoing threat to the peace and stability of our region, and our security forces’ effective response. We will not tolerate any acts of violence against foreign diplomats or businesses in Kurdistan.