An event observed this week in an eastern Baghdad district illustrates the double-edged nature of apparently increasing US and Iraqi reliance on tips from local sources.
In the generally working-class Shi'a district of Sha'b, in northeast Baghdad, what seemed to be a straightforward tip from residents apparently turned into a part of an elaborate and deadly ambush operation designed to exploit the reliance of the Iraqi and US forces on such tips.
On Monday in the Sha'b area, locals tell IraqSlogger that Iraqi police responded to a tip from residents who found a small rocket launcher, apparently loaded and ready to fire. US forces were summoned to the scene to examine the device.
Within seconds after the US troops arrived, a sniper killed one of the American soldiers, witnesses report. Locals later learned that the rocket launcher was an ineffective older model, leading them to conclude that the device was placed at the scene in order to lure soldiers into the sniper's sights through the tips of concerned residents.
Locals tell IraqSlogger that they have no reason to believe that the residents who submitted the tips to the Iraqi police in the first place were in any way part of the alleged ambush operation.
In many cases, tips from residents to US or Iraqi forces have led to the neutralization of IEDs or car bombs in residential areas, or to successful raids against militant groups, as IraqSlogger has reported earlier.
However, as information garnered from tips from local sources apparently becomes more effective, drawbacks remain. On the one hand, the information provided may itself be intentionally falsified, while on the other, as the story above illustrates, militant groups may be learning to exploit the reliance of US and Iraqi forces on local tips.