Iraqi, American Soldiers Seize Anti-Terrorist Initiative
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 11, 2005 Iraqi and coalition forces have seized the initiative in a series of operations in and around Baghdad and north and west of the city, official said today.
Perhaps most significantly, multinational forces reportedly raided a terrorist safe house in Zanazil, near Mosul, on Sept. 10, detaining four terrorists and killing a key al Qaeda leader, Abu Zayd.
Zayd was the al Qaeda military emir of Mosul, officials said. He was reportedly responsible for coordinating all terrorist operations in the city, including kidnappings, extortion, murder, intimidation of Mosul citizens, and attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces. Abu Zayd also directed the use of foreign fighters within his organization
Multinational forces reportedly used their own intelligence assets and information from concerned citizens to identify the terrorist safe house.
According to officials, when they arrived at the site, multinational forces immediately detained the four terrorists found outside the house. They then shot and killed an unknown terrorist who was engaging them from a nearby field. The unknown terrorist later was positively identified as Abu Zayd.
Zayd's capture means that just two known terrorist leaders remain in control of al Qaeda's Mosul terrorist network, officials said. Another Mosul terrorist leader, Abu Talha was captured, recently; and another, Abu Zubayr has been killed, they noted.
Multinational forces also said they captured Ammar 'Abd-Al-Hafiz' Abd Muhummad -- aka Ammar Amam Wakhtif or Sheik Ammar -- an admitted terrorist and leader of the Numan Brigade, in a raid earlier this month near Ramadi.
Sheik Ammar reportedly oversaw and directed Numan's day-to-day operations. He ordered numerous car bombings and other direct attacks against Iraqi and coalition Forces, officials said. Sheik Ammar took control of the Numan terrorist Brigade when Muhammad Daham was captured in May, they noted.
Another Numan cell leader, Sayf-al-Din Yahya Anad -- aka Sheik Sayf or Abu Hamza - also reportedly was captured during the raid. Hamza was responsible for organizing and directing attacks against Iraqi coalition forces.
"The capture of these two terrorists, coupled with the more than 200 other captured or killed terrorists throughout Iraq recently, demonstrates the coalition's continued progress in removing these key terrorist leaders," said Multinational Corps Iraq spokesman Army Col. Billy J. Buckner. "We are degrading the overall effectiveness of al-Qaeda terrorist network in Iraq and its ability to conduct operations in Iraq."
In fact, according to Buckner, since Aug. 26, Iraqi and coalition forces have captured 211 terrorist suspects, killed 141 terrorists and confiscated nine weapons caches.
Forty-one terrorist suspects were captured during cordon-and-search operations Sept. 10 in the city of Tall Afar outside of Baghdad, he noted. These operations also yielded a mortar system with multiple rounds of ammunition and a cache containing hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
"Operation Restoring Rights," Buckner said, "is being conducted to remove terrorists and foreign fighters operating in Tall Afar. This operation is in support of the Iraqi government's efforts to bring safety and security to the citizens of the city."
The local Iraqi government, Buckner added, requested coalition assistance to establish security in Tall Afar for the upcoming elections.
Cordon-and-search operations also are being conducted with great success in a known terrorist safe haven in Rutbah, in western Anbar province, officials said.
Dubbed Operation Zobaa - aka Cyclone - these operations were launched very early today and are designed to root out al Qaeda, disrupt terrorist operations and destroy terrorist networks.
Officials said the operation was launched to quell terrorist activities, which have been escalating for the past several months in Rutbah. This escalation in terrorist activity has given the terrorists an effective base of operations, which they have used to intimidate and murder the local Rutbah populace, city and government officials.
Officials said that, as with all coalition operations, strict measures have been taken to prevent civilian casualties and unnecessary collateral damage to property in Rutbah.
In a separate incident near Samarra, one Task Force Liberty soldier was killed today when an IED detonated near a coalition forces combat patrol there. Two soldiers were wounded in the incident; they have since been taken to a coalition medical facility, officials said.
Meanwhile, in Kirkuk, Task Force Liberty soldiers and Iraqi police today detained eight individuals suspected of making and placing homemade bombs. The suspects are now in police custody. Soldiers and police conducted their search based on information gathered by the Iraqi police, officials said.
Elsewhere in Iraq, Task Fore Liberty and Iraqi soldiers Sept. 10 apprehended four individuals and seized a weapons cache in Jalula in the Diyala province. The weapons cache had 29 82 mm mortar rounds, 14 122 mm artillery rounds, and six 130 mm artillery rounds, officials said.
Task Force Liberty explosive ordnance disposal personnel conducted a controlled blast to destroy the munitions, which reportedly had been found when the soldiers were investigating a tip from a local citizen.
Task Force Liberty Soldiers also discovered and seized a cache of mortar rounds near Bayji Sept. 10. The soldiers had been searching a farm north of the city when they found the cache; it included 35 60 mm mortar rounds and boxes of artillery propellant. The cache was taken to a coalition force base for disposal, officials said.
Finally, coalition air support of ground operations continues at a brisk pace. Coalition aircraft flew 48 close air support and armed reconnaissance sorties Sept. 10, officials said.
A U.S. Air Force Predator expended one Hellfire missile in the vicinity of Tall Afar, thereby successfully destroying a vehicular IED Sept. 10. And U.S. Air Force F-16s performed a pre-planned strike against terrorists staging near Samarra.
(Based on news releases from Multinational Force Iraq and U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward.)