Al Qaeda Captures To Yield Intel But Won't End Insurgency
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 14, 2005 The capture of two key al Qaeda operatives in Iraq this week is expected to yield valuable intelligence but won't stop the insurgency, the Defense Department's top spokesman told Pentagon reporters today.
The weekend captures of Abu Abdul Aziz, believed to be al Qaeda's leader in Baghdad, and Abu Seba, who is tied to recent attacks on diplomats in the city, represents a blow to al Qaeda, according to Lawrence Di Rita, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.
The two men also go by the names Abdulla Ibrahim Muhammed Hassan al Shadad and Khamis Farhan Khalaf Abd al Fahdawi, respectively.
The coalition has been capturing "a lot" of suspected terrorists "and, from that, developing a lot of intelligence," Di Rita said.
Aziz is cooperating with coalition forces, officials with Multinational Force Iraq said today.
Both Ariz and Seba have links to wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but Di Rita declined to link their captures to Zarqawi's. "When we get him, we'll get him," Di Rita said of Zarqawi.
He also stressed that their captures won't bring an end to terror attacks in Baghdad. Terrorists "always have someone behind them," he said. "So there is no individual whose capture will stop the insurgency."
However, ongoing operations against the insurgency are having an effect on al Qaeda, Di Rita said.
"What we know about al Qaeda is that it is a networked organization, so when you disrupt aspects of the network, it disrupts their operations to some extent," he said. And while performance has shown that al Qaeda can recover fairly quickly from these disruptions by recruiting new members, "over time, we have disrupted a lot of al Qaeda senior leadership," Di Rita said.
Di Rita called the July 13 homicide car-bomb attack in eastern Baghdad that left more than two dozen people dead, including 18 children and a U.S. soldier, "a tragic circumstance."
The children had gathered around a U.S. patrol for candy and other treats when the bomb detonated. "The Iraqis do tend to react to U.S. forces when they are in their area," Di Rita said. "They appreciate the fact that U.S. forces are there, (and) they tend to collect around U.S. forces."
The military is looking for ways it might adjust procedures to avoid similar incidents in the future, but Di Rita acknowledged that completely preventing them is all but impossible.
"When somebody is willing to kill themselves, it is a very difficult thing to defend against," he said.