'Homemade explosive device'

Suspects arrested in Baghdad KFC restaurant attack

BAGHDAD — The Baghdad Operations Command announced Sunday the arrest of individuals responsible for an attack on a KFC restaurant on Palestine Street. The suspects, riding a motorcycle, threw an explosive device at the restaurant’s facade.

According to the statement, the incident involved two individuals who “threw a homemade explosive device at the entrance of a restaurant while riding a motorcycle.” The explosion caused damage to the restaurant’s frontage, but no casualties were reported.

KFC is an American-based fast food restaurant chain with thousands of branches worldwide.

After reviewing surveillance camera footage, Baghdad forces tracked down the suspects and arrested them. They also seized the motorcycle and handguns in their possession. Legal procedures against the suspects are ongoing.

The motive behind the attack is yet to be determined by authorities, though the chain is among many American fast food brands targeted by boycotts and protests in Iraq.

The opening of a new KFC restaurant in Baghdad’s Al-Jamihah neighborhood on April 10 sparked a debate on the effectiveness of boycotting businesses associated with companies accused of supporting Israel. Some argue that humanitarian principles demand a boycott, while others believe such actions harm local Iraqi owners and workers without benefiting Palestinians.

A supporter of the boycott told 964media, “Boycotting is a small way to support our people in Gaza. As Iraqis, it’s essential to boycott this restaurant. The boycott is a simple humanitarian act.”

Conversely, an opponent of the boycott said, “The restaurant owner bought only the franchise name. Calls for a boycott will harm the owner because he won’t be able to claim his investment back.”

He emphasized, “The food items used in the restaurant, like meat, bread, potatoes, and tomatoes, are all Iraqi products, and the staff are Iraqis. The boycott will only harm Iraqis.”

In late January, a boycott campaign organized a protest in Baghdad outside the new branch of Pizza Hut to oppose its upcoming opening. The campaign aimed to “reject any American franchise operating in Iraq,” in solidarity with the people of Gaza. The protest took place in Baghdad’s Karrada area, in front of Pizza Hut, located next to the first KFC branch in Baghdad. Security forces present at the protest urged protestors not to damage public or private property.

Participants in the campaign told 964media, “The campaign is to reaffirm our opposition to the attacks on Gaza and to highlight that buying any American product represents support for the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.”

Another participant added, “We oppose the opening of this restaurant or any other American establishment in Iraq, calling on the relevant authorities to shut down American restaurants and those from other countries supporting Israel.”

The U.S. has been a strong backer of Israel throughout the ongoing war in Gaza.

Last November, several popular fast-food restaurants in Baghdad, including KFC, Pizza Hut, and Cinnabon, had their front glass windows stained with a blood-red color. The act appeared to be in protest against the alleged support of Israeli actions by the parent companies of these brands, though KFC has not publicly expressed support for Israel.

The recent anti-KFC protests across Asia are primarily fueled by accusations that the company financially supports Israel, particularly amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza. These protests have resulted in significant disruptions, including the temporary closure of over 100 KFC outlets in Malaysia and a newly opened branch in Algeria.

In Malaysia, the backlash against KFC has been part of a broader movement to boycott American brands perceived to support Israel. This movement gained momentum due to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with activists urging consumers to avoid businesses they believe contribute to the conflict. The operator of KFC restaurants in Malaysia, QSR Brands, cited “challenging economic conditions” in response to the boycott campaign, which has significantly impacted their operations​.

In Algeria, a newly opened KFC branch was forced for two days due to protests. Demonstrators accused the fast-food chain of financially supporting Israel’s military actions in Gaza, which have caused widespread devastation and significant civilian casualties.