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Operations in Iraq, Afghanistan Bring In Weapons, Suspects

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 26, 2004 – Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the capture of insurgents and the discovery of illegal weapons caches in recent days.

On Dec. 24, military officials in Iraq announced that two key associates of fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been captured earlier this month in Ramadi by 2nd Brigade Combat Team soldiers serving with the 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. The soldiers captured Saleh Arugayan Kahlil Mahalawi, also known as Abu Ubaydah, on Dec. 8, and Bassim Mohammad Hazeem, also known as Abu Khattab, on Dec. 12.

Officials said both were cell leaders for a Zarqawi-affiliated terrorist group operating in Ramadi and western Anbar province. This group is responsible for intimidating, attacking and murdering innocent Iraqi civilians, Iraqi police and security forces, and business and political leaders throughout the Anbar province, officials said.

A written statement from Multinational Force Iraq announcing the captures said that over the last several months, this terrorist group kidnapped and executed 11 Iraqi National Guardsmen, detonated improvised explosive devices and car bombs resulting in the death or injury of dozens of Ramadi citizens, and smuggled foreign terrorists into the country to destabilize the region and prevent economic growth in Iraq.

"Local citizens are providing useful, detailed information regarding these terrorists," the statement continued. "The information provided by the citizens of Ar Ramadi has led to the capture of several members of this group since early December."

In addition to the surrender of these two key terrorist leaders, many foreign fighters were also detained, the statement said. "The detainees have provided information regarding the involvement of other individuals who are actively recruiting and smuggling foreign terrorists," officials reported in the Dec. 24 statement.

Elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit patrolling south of Rutbah seized a weapons cache and detained two people Christmas night. The Marines saw 14 military-aged men loading materials onto a trailer outside of a house. Upon further investigation of the area, the Marines uncovered 50 to 75 155 mm high- explosive projectiles and empty ammunition crates. The owner of the house and the truck's driver were detained, and there were no casualties.

Marines and Soldiers of the 1st Marine Division of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force wrapped up Operation Wonderland in Ramadi Dec. 24. The operation netted 29 detainees and multiple weapons caches.

Forty-eight sites were raided during the four-day operation in an effort to disrupt insurgent activity and networks in and near the provincial capital, officials said. Anti-tank mines, mortar rounds and artillery rounds were confiscated for future destruction. Fourteen rifles, a shotgun and a pistol also were confiscated. Various insurgent paraphernalia was seized, which included cell phones, a saber, a computer and $20,541. U.S. forces also seized a car with an altered fuel tank, a sign it was being prepared to carry explosives for detonation, officials.

Also on Dec. 24, officials announced that soldiers from 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) had prevented a potential car bomb attack and detained 38 suspects in separate operations since Dec. 23.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, prevented a potential attack from occurring on security forces Dec. 23 after they located a car containing a detonator, bomb-making material and a video camera. Two subjects fled before they could be apprehended. An explosives ordnance disposal team cleared the vehicle.

On Dec. 24, soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment, conducted cordon-and-search operations near Singar, looking for suspected terrorist cell members. Multinational forces detained 32 insurgents, who remain in custody for questioning. Soldiers also confiscated five AK-47 assault rifles, two handguns and 2 million Iraqi dinars in currency.

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment detained two suspicious people Dec. 23 at a traffic control point in central Mosul after multinational forces spotted the subjects observing the checkpoint from a distance. A search produced 1,000 blank identification cards, and the suspects were taken into custody. The battalion also searched for weapons caches near the northern city of Hammam al Alil on Dec. 23. Three suspected insurgents were taken into custody.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment, searched a Tal Afar business Dec. 23 and detained a suspect after multinational forces discovered insurgent propaganda and other documents containing schematics and chemical equations.

In Afghanistan, military officials announced that coalition forces found five weapons caches Dec. 23.

The first, near Tarin Kowt, contained two 107 rockets, an 82 mm mortar, a mine, a rocket-propelled grenade round, three cans of mortar fuses, one can of mine fuses and two 107 mm rocket fuses. Local teenagers near Salerno directed soldiers to the second cache, which contained three RPGs. The third cache, near Waza Khwa, contained 13 boxes of machine gun ammunition, and various pieces of electronic and radio equipment. The fourth weapons cache, near Ghazni, contained 6,600 boxes of 14.5 mm rounds and 5,700 boxes of 12.7 mm rounds. The fifth weapons cache near Orgun-e contained 11 107 mm rockets, an RPG launcher and a recoilless rifle.

Coalition forces have secured the weapons caches and will destroy them, officials said.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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Related Sites:
Multinational Force Iraq
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan
1st Marine Expeditionary Force
1st Marine Division
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division
1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment
3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment


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