Excerpted from Business Insider: More than two-thirds of the Humvees the US supplied to Iraq to fight terrorists have ended up in the hands of Islamic State militants.
And the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh, has not wasted any time in converting those vehicles into one of its deadliest and most nightmarish tools: suicide car bombs.
According to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, ISIS controls about 2,300 armored US Humvees. Most of those vehicles were seized after ISIS overran Mosul in June 2014.
In addition to being used in further attacks against Iraqi forces, these vehicles were sent over the border to Syria to help ISIS solidify its foothold there.
The Humvees were specifically created by the US to be able to carry heavy loads and to sustain small-arms fire — qualities ISIS has found make the vehicles perfect for suicide bombings. Keep reading
Excerpted from Foreign Policy: When the United States gave more than 3,000 armored Humvees to Iraqi security forces over the past 12 years, U.S. officials could not have imagined that the humble utility vehicles would become a decisive weapon in the hands of Washington’s enemies from the Islamic State.
But that is exactly what has happened. Humvees were some of the 30 vehicles converted into mobile suicide bombs that the Islamic State used to blast through Iraqi security forces’ defenses during its three-day conquest of Ramadi in mid-May. The militants also used an armored bulldozer and at least one U.S.-made M113 armored personnel carrier. There’s a simple reason the militants are using Humvees and other armored vehicles as rolling bombs: Their protective armored plating prevents defenders from killing the trucks’ drivers before the militants can detonate their loads, while the vehicles’ capacity to carry enormous amounts of weight means the Islamic State can sometimes pack in a ton of explosives. Some of the bombs used in Ramadi contained the explosive force of the deadly Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 that devastated a federal office building and killed 168 people.
The attack on Ramadi was the latest assault in which the Islamic State used armored Humvees as shock weapons to breach security force perimeters, scare beleaguered Iraqi troops into fleeing their positions, and become the centerpieces of flashy videos the group released through social media to its supporters around the globe. In addition to Ramadi, they were also used in attacks elsewhere in Anbar province in the ongoing battle for the Baiji oil refinery, as well as in Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria, according to Al Sweetser, chief of operational analysis and assessments at the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), which the Pentagon established in 2006 to develop ways of protecting American troops from what had emerged as the insurgents’ weapon of choice during the Iraq War.
The total number of military vehicles the Islamic State has captured is unknown, but according to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the group seized 2,300 armored Humvees when it overran Mosul last June, indicating the depth of resources available to the militants as they work to expand their rule in Iraq and Syria and beat back Iraqi attempts to regain the lost territory. The United States has given the Iraqis a total of fewer than 3,500 Humvees, more than 3,000 of which were armored, according to Defense Department spokesman Army Lt. Col. Joe Sowers. He did not know whether that number included the many hundreds of Humvees left behind when U.S. forces departed Iraq.
That most of Iraq’s Humvees are now in the hands of the Islamic State could spell bad news for President Barack Obama’s administration and its putative allies in Baghdad. The United States and other members of the ad hoc anti-Islamic State coalition are delivering anti-tank weapons to Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia in an effort to give them a weapon that can hold the Islamic State’s armored military vehicles at bay, while JIEDDO is racing to develop new, classified techniques to defeat a weapon that had its origins in the U.S. military.
The use of armored vehicles is the latest stage in the evolution of the use of suicide vehicle bombs by the Islamic State and its predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq. The first stage began shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and involved packing regular civilian cars and trucks with explosives. The second stage was the use of civilian trucks with armor sheeting welded or bolted to them to create what Sweetser called “Mad Max” vehicles. The use of the armor siding was to protect the suicide driver from small-arms fire, allowing him to get close enough to his target before triggering the explosion. “It’s pretty amazing, their ingenuity and [the] level of thought and care” the Islamic State puts into the bombs, Sweetser said.
The current use of military vehicles is the third phase. While the Ramadi attack used a mixture of all three types of vehicle bombs, experts said the armored Humvees, in particular, hold five key advantages for the attacker: Keep reading