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Iraqis Net 'Top Suspect' Among Scores Of Recent Detentions

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2005 – A suspected senior insurgent and two others found operating an illegal checkpoint in a Baghdad neighborhood were captured by Iraqi police Jan. 22.

The suspect and his two accomplices were taken into custody after police discovered them operating an illegal traffic checkpoint in the Hateen neighborhood. Local informants positively identified the alleged senior insurgent.

His capture in Baghdad occurred amid scores of other detentions of suspected insurgents across Iraq conducted by U.S. and Iraqi forces in recent days. Task Force Baghdad had tracked the alleged top insurgent for nearly a year, officials noted. All three suspects remain in custody for questioning.

"We are gradually picking away at the terrorist infrastructure," said Maj. Web Wright, spokesman for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. Wright noted that U.S. and coalition officials are receiving more tips each day from Iraqi citizens "who are standing up and identifying these murderers and thugs."

The Baghdad capture of the suspected top insurgent is "a result of Iraqi police and multinational forces working together toward a common goal, and that goal is freedom," said Lt. Col. Michael Infanti, deputy brigade commander.

And U.S. soldiers detained 58 suspects during recent cordon-and search- operations north and east of Mosul. Military officials say the Mosul area is becoming safer with each seizure and removal of dangerous weapons and detention of anti-Iraqi insurgents.

In Tikrit, U.S. 1st Infantry Division soldiers detained two people Jan. 22 after finding a mortar round during a vehicle search. Afterward, a second vehicle that attempted to run the checkpoint was fired upon. The driver was injured and evacuated to the Tikrit Hospital.

Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, detained 19 suspected terrorists in 15 different raids and patrols Jan. 21 in western Baghdad.

Among the detainees was an insurgent cell believed responsible for killing a local Iraqi who had provided information to the multinational forces. An anonymous tip provided the information used to target the cell. Commandos captured submachine guns, surveillance equipment, ammunition, plastic explosives, machine guns, a rocket-propelled-grenade sight, and an automobile rigged with a toggle switch.

The suspects detained are being held for questioning.

U.S. 5th Cavalry Regiment soldiers attached to Task Force 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, found a 55-gallon drum filled with RPGs, hand grenades, artillery rounds and other munitions during a cordon-and-search operation near Latifiyah, in the north Babil region Jan. 21.

The weapons were discovered during a comprehensive search of the farmland along the banks the Euphrates River. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the cache with a controlled detonation.

And Iraqi soldiers from the 7th Brigade, working with the U.S. 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, found weapons, mortar rounds and machine guns Jan. 21 during an operation near Fallujah.

Other Iraqi units working with U.S. Marines in the Fallujah area in recent days also found myriad other weapons and munitions.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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