Agence France-Presse

Interpol issues global alert following Al Qaeda prison breaks in Iraq

An Iraqi Baghdad Central Prison security guard stands guard on February 21, 2009 outside the reopened Baghdad Central Prison in Abu Ghraib west of Baghdad, Iraq.
Credit: Wathiq Khuzaie

Interpol issued a security alert Wednesday after dangerous prisoners, many of them reportedly members of Al Qaeda, escaped two Iraqi prisons earlier this week.

The alert came at the request of officials in Iraq after gunmen attacked the Taji and Abu Ghraib prisons simultaneously near Baghdad on July 21.

Using mortars to gain access and free the prisoners, militants killed at least 20 members of the Iraqi security forces in the process.

The jailbreaks constitute a “major threat to global security,” Interpol said Wednesday.

Many of the escaped prisoners were senior-level Al Qaeda members, some of whom had been sentenced to death.

Al Qaeda in Iraq made it clear in 2012 that the “breaking the walls” campaign to free its members in jails was a top priority for the organization.

Monday’s attack came exactly a year after the campaign was announced.

Some of those freed are likely headed to Syria, according to Reuters.

Interpol said it was working closely with security forces in Baghdad to collect information on the escaped prisoners, including photographs and fingerprints.

That information will be used to assist law enforcement officers in their regional and global search and eventual identification of the fugitives.

Interpol adopted a resolution in 2006 that called on member countries to alert the General Secretariat to prison escapes of suspected terrorists and other dangerous criminals.

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