Baghdad Jawaher Mall Bombing and Shooting Highlights The Danger of “Complex Attacks”

Baghdad mall (courtesy

We’ve pointed it out before: future terrorist attacks inside the U.S. may not adhere to the commonly anticipated pattern. Specifically, a lone gunman (or two in the case of San Bernardino) mounting a single attack. Terrorists abroad have long used “complex attacks”: multiple attackers operating at multiple locations with bombs and firearms in a coordinated assault. (Lest we forget, that was the plan for the Columbine shooting.) Today’s ISIS attack on Baghdad’s Jawaher Mall, a slaughter that left at least 1o people dead, is another warning. Here’s what we know so far [via] . . .

An attack involving hostages at a Baghdad mall began Monday after two men detonated a parked car outside the shopping center, a Wall Street Journal reported said. The men opened fire on the crowd outside the mall before donating their suicide vests.

It would seem that the car bomb was intended to funnel people into a killing zone, a technique uses against American soldiers in both Afghanistan and Iraq, sometimes used to kill first responders when they arrive on the scene.

The exact details of this Baghdad bombing and shooting remain unclear. Here’s how reports the incident:

At least 10 people were killed and 22 were injured when insurgents attacked a shopping mall in Baghdad Monday with hand grenades and at least two nearby bombs, police told NBC News.

Iraqi security forces opened fire on the insurgents, who initially tried to take a money exchange office in Baghdad Al-Jadeedah before entering the Al Jawhara shopping mall, a major in the Baghdad Police Department and a master sergeant in the Iraqi Federal Police Division said.

Police said the attackers were throwing hand grenades at civilians inside the mall and held them hostage there. At least 10 civilians were killed and another 22 injured, according to police.

I can’t emphasize this enough…if you’re caught in or near a terrorist attack or spree killing, do not assume you’re facing a single-pronged assault. 

Consider the full nature of the attack before engaging a single bad guy or escaping in any particular direction. The crowd running from the initial violence will most likely leave the scene via a “logical” escape route — one known to the attackers. Look before you leap and avoid crowds both in the short term and those that gather at the scene “afterwards.”


  1. avatar Defens says:

    Even the Boston marathon jihadis double-dipped on the explosive devices.

    I wonder who the men in the attack “donated” their vests to?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Beat me to it.

    2. avatar Cliff H says:

      The attack in Mumbai involved at least two diversionary attacks and two car bombs (left in taxis) before the main assault on the hotel, and an additional assault on a Jewish center at the same time. IN Nairobi they attacked two different areas of the mall simultaneously, I believe, eventually joining up in the grocery.

  2. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    They have shopping malls in Iraq?

    1. avatar John L. says:

      Sure, why not?

      The bazaar was the original shopping mall, after all.

      1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

        More like invented the FLEA market LOL. Yeah I avoid malls like the plague(bubonic). Last time I went(Calumet City,IL) it was literally a giant street gang. Glad my kid got outa’ Iraq alive…

        1. avatar Mike says:

          Malls are becoming a thing of the past. Like a lot of things, technology is rendering them obsolete.

        2. avatar Joe R. says:

          Soap, toilet paper and deodorant are (real old) still hip however.

          + on the secondary attack. Look for watchers too, sometimes it’s just a test run.

  3. avatar JasonM says:

    …before donating their suicide vests.

    Where did they donate them? I’ll make sure not to go there to pick up my sweater for next year’s ugly Christmas sweater contest.

  4. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Glad to see they donated the suicide vests. Maybe they’ll keep some jihadists warm.

    ED:darn it, beat to it.

    Seriously though, I am surprised that they shot and detonated the vests; it seems kind of stupid to chase people away from you and then blow yourself up with the intent of killing them.

    1. avatar Hasdrubal says:

      They could have been either trying to herd the crowd into a particular location, pack them in tighter before setting the explosives off, or in case they were cornered by whatever Iraqi law enforcement looks like. A third option, there could be backup radio detonators on the vests, for handlers to take care of anyone thinking of surrendering. There’s probably more reasons, but that’s the first few I thought of.

  5. avatar anaxis says:

    Yet another example of why I avoid malls like they were plague-infested insane asylums… besides the fact that they are plague-infested insane asylums.

  6. avatar tdiianva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

    There is a big difference between Iraq and the US. There are few ethnic safe havens to hide the preparations for a complex multi-person attack. Do you hear me Detroit?

    FYI. The complex attack was developed by the IRA, transmitted to the PLO in Libyan training camps and diffused throughout the Middle East. Teddy Kennedy was a big IRA supporter. He belonged on the terrorist no fly list.

    1. avatar MurrDog says:

      Put an end to the Troubles, though.

      1. avatar tdiinva (now in Wisconsin) says:

        The troubles never end. A new generation will arise.

        1. avatar MurrDog says:

          Well it’s the Republic of Ireland now so I’d say that’s a win. Now only if the Scots hadn’t been such cowards on that last vote.

        2. avatar tdiianva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

          As long g as there is an Ulster there will be troubles. And the Scots are way to smart to leave the UK. Scotland exists to extract money from the far more prosperous English.

  7. avatar Anon says:

    911 plane crashes and a London railway bombing with knapsacks. Many bad guys involved.

    My thoughts are at 911, not all the bad guys thought they were going to die, just the pilots and a few trusted friends. . . .but all of them?

    The London railway bombing was in my mind similar: different people talking:

    First conversation: “Don’t worry my friend, when you pull the rip cord, you will have time to get off at the next station”

    Second conversation: “How long do you want the fuses?” “One second will do fine”

    The problem with a well coordinated attack by trained terrorists is that THEY know what they will do next and THEY hope you follow the crowd. Difficult to respond to and to protect against.

  8. Interesting how the media persists in calling these foreign terrorists “insurgents”.

    1. Instead of the preferred term “freedom fighters”.

  9. avatar Gabe Suarez says:

    Nicely written sir. All good points to keep in mind

  10. avatar Stuki Moi says:

    Not particularly efficient, if, despite being loaded up out with kit up to and including grenades, “multiple attackers” could only manage to kill 10. It’ll be a hard slog building much of a Caliphate, if the best you can do is go 1 for 1 with unarmed civilians….

    Perhaps unrelated (or not), but it seems ISIS has run into a bit of a recruitment problem. That will only get worse, as romantic ideals of a glorious battle against the infidels and the creation of a pure Islamic State, gives way to the inevitable reality of governing and being governed in a rubble pile under permanent assault, for at least several more generations.

    Afghans, Pakistani Pushtuns and other Central Asians are cut out for that kind of thing, and probably don’t much mind, but ISIS is dependent on recruiting from The Middle East, and even Western Europe. Much softer and more spoiled populations, for whom generations of living in caves and eating granite and sheep dung, probably won’t seem like much of an improvement, even compared to life in the downtrodden Banlieu that is their only other realistic option.

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