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Coalition, Iraqi Raid Nabs Mosul's Top al Qaeda Operative

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2005 – Coalition and Iraqi security forces captured al Qaeda's top operative in Iraq's Mosul region without incident June 14, military officials in Baghdad announced today.

Muhammad Khalaf Shakar, also known as Abu Talha, is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's most trusted operations agent in Iraq, officials said. Multiple intelligence sources led coalition forces to the terrorist's location in a quiet Mosul neighborhood.

According to former associates, Talha never stayed more than one night at any one residence and always wore a suicide vest, saying he would never surrender. Talha gave up peacefully to coalition forces and supporting Iraqi security forces, and is fully cooperating with coalition and Iraqi officials, according to a release from Multinational Force Iraq.

In other Iraq operations, cash and weapons were discovered and multiple terror suspects captured during several operations in and around Baghdad.

Iraqi police conducted an early-morning raid against a terrorist safe house in eastern Baghdad June 15.

Seven suspected terrorists were captured, along with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, 29 AK-47 assault rifles, four bolt-action rifles, an automatic rifle, a motorcycle, four cases of 7.62 mm - ammunition, and three boxes of fuses.

Members of Task Force Baghdad's 720th Military Police Battalion provided support to Iraqi police during this mission, officials said.

Iraqi soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted an early-morning raid in Baghdad June 14, resulting in the capture of two suspected terrorists.

Both terror suspects are believed to be responsible for a vehicle-bomb attackthat killed several Iraqi soldiers last month.

Coalition forces from 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, supported the operation from a distance but were not needed, officials said.

Later in the day, the Iraqi Interior Ministry's 2nd Public Order Brigade responded to a tip from an Iraqi citizen about a bomb-making facility near Salman Pak. When the Iraqi forces searched the facility, they found two bombs prepped and ready for use.

The same day, Iraqi security forces and U.S. Task Force Baghdad soldiers seized 15 terror suspects, cash, and weapons in central and south Baghdad.

Task Force Baghdad soldiers carried out the largest operation of the day, capturing two suspected terrorists and finding $57,000 in Iraqi and U.S. currency at a house in the Jihad district of central Baghdad. The soldiers also found a shotgun, two rifles, two scopes, a pistol, 10 assault rifle magazines, a computer, and a picture of Saddam Hussein.

Also June 14, Iraqi police conducted a cordon-and-search operation at a safe house in southern Baghdad and arrested eight suspects thought to have connections to terrorist activities in the Doura district.

In other combat operations, an Iraqi army patrol arrested a known terrorist in a parking lot in central Baghdad. The man was wanted for killings and kidnappings in central Baghdad.

Iraqi police and coalition forces working together in central Baghdad detained four more terror suspects after spotting a suspicious-looking vehicle near a bridge in central Baghdad. When the team searched the vehicle they found five AK-47s, nine magazines, and 42 rounds of ammunition.

On June 13, coalition forces recovered two improvised explosive devices in southern Baghdad with the assistance of a local resident. U.S. military officials said the citizen was a fixture along the heavily patrolled roads and is a reliable source of information for soldiers in the area.

Through an interpreter, the man informed Army 1st Lt. Scott Alpaugh of B Battery, 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, where two improvised explosive devices were hidden. Alpaugh's unit was on a routine mission to clear a major supply route of IEDs.

The young Iraqi man led the patrol to a deteriorated building that concealed the two IEDs. Two artillery rounds, one 122 mm and one 155 mm, already modified into IEDs, were found. The IEDs were ready for emplacement and positioned near a road with a previous history of dangerous attacks.

An explosive ordnance disposal team disarmed the IEDs. The patrol will keep the location under observation for the next few days in hopes of catching the terrorists involved, officials said.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Task Force Baghdad news releases.)

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