The statement translated by me below concerns the recent Islamic State [IS] suicide bombing conducted in the heart of Arbil, around 14 months after a previous assault by IS' predecessor the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS]. Some points to note:
1. That IS would use a Kurdish member to carry out this attack comes as no surprise. Featuring Kurds within the group's ranks- to be directed at Kurdish rivals and counteract allegations of ethnic supremacism- has been a part of IS[IS] messaging for a year now, as can be seen in an installment of the al-'Itisam media video series entitled "Windows on the Land of Epic Battles." The section of interest is "message of the Kurdish mujahideen in the Islamic State", in Kurdish and with Arabic subtitles, with threats to the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG]:
"We ask God Almighty for us to be servants for this religion [Islam] and among those of whom God Almighty has spoken in His noble Qur'an: "God has purchased from the believers their lives and their wealth, for which they will have Paradise." [Qur'an 9:111]....This is a message directed at all the apostates of the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] and the apostates of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK], and to all the secularists in Kurdistan, particularly those tied to the so-called 'struggle/war against terrorism', the Asayish, the police and the intelligence services for the two ruling parties in Kurdistan. By God's permission, we will return to Kurdistan with the arms that we have placed on our shoulders, in revenge for the blood of thousands of Muslims that have been split for no fault, and the blood of the Muslims who have tasted the bitterness of humiliation until they were martyred in the prisons of the apostates..."
The vast majority of IS' Kurdish members come from Iraqi Kurdistan and are ideologically driven, at least much more so than many of their local Arab counterparts who may have pledged allegiance for reasons of seeing IS as the 'winning horse' rather than strong affinity with IS' ideological program. An advantage of using Kurdish members to attack the KRG is that it can throw the Kurdish security services by surprise, which might suspect, like the wider Kurdish population, a terrorist threat from possible IS supporters and sympathizers among new Arab arrivals to Iraqi Kurdistan since the fall of Mosul.
2. Insurgent threats to the KRG in the form of attacks in the heart of KRG territory will come exclusively from IS for the foreseeable future. The only other jihadi group in Iraq with Kurdish fighters and a particularly strong animus against the KRG- Jamaat Ansar al-Islam, ultimately deriving from the pre-2003 Ansar al-Islam of Iraqi Kurdistan- has seen its capacities severely degraded by IS crackdowns on the group and defections to IS. Other insurgent groups like the Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandi (JRTN), long suspected of car bombings in Kirkuk, are much more concerned about the 'Safavid' government in Baghdad, even as they may fight the Peshmerga on the ground in, say, parts of Diyala province to prevent them from taking districts outside of government control. Indeed, note that JRTN denied assisting IS' offensives in Ninawa against Kurdish forces.
Unlike IS' approach to Jordan, where economic considerations of fees extorted from trucks passing from Jordan through into IS-held territory in Anbar province (specifically Rutba) and lack of capacity to invade Jordanian territory mean a lack of IS fighting with Jordanian forces, whatever money is made by selling oil to private buyers in Iraqi Kurdistan does not outweigh IS' ideological drive against the KRG- motivated further as it is by extensive fighting with the Peshmerga in Ninawa province that has also brought in a long-standing enemy of IS in Syria: the Kurdistan Worker's Party [PKK], which is training a Yezidi armed wing ("Sinjar Resistance Units" or YBṢ) to retake Sinjar from IS.
Logo of the YBṢ, featuring Yezidi symbolism. My friend and colleague Jonathan Krohn has exclusive reporting coming up on this group, which I recommend reading once published.
Here is the translated statement:
Media Office. 27 Muharram 1436 AH [20 November 2014]
The Almighty has said: "Fight them. God will torment them at your hands, degrade them, give you victory over them, and heal the hearts of the believers" [Qur'an 9:113].
On 26 Muharram 1436 (19/11/2014), a security squadron from the lions of Shera [courage] and knights of the clash in Wilayat Kirkuk- from the soldiers of the state of the Caliphate- managed to penetrate through all the security checkpoints of the collaborationist Kurdistan government and arrive in the heart of Arbil, the strength of whose fortifications they had often bragged about, but they [the soldiers of the Caliphate] managed to prepare one of the knights of martyrdom (Abd al-Rahman al-Kurdi) and send him to the intended target, and God granted for the heroic commando to assault Arbil's provincial building with his car bomb and carry out a raid in the midst of the groupings of the apostates of the Asayish and blow up his car, leading to the falling of more than 58 of them among wounded and killed, together with the burning of more than 80 vehicles belonging to them. We ask God to accept our brother in the highest paradise and reward him best in the stead of the Ummah of Islam. And we say to the apostate traitors from the agents of the American intelligence services from the Peshmerga and Asayish: you will see from us what will afflict you and what is to come will be shrewder, and the matter is by God's permission.
And Allahu akbar