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Defeating Terror Cells Key to Terror Fight, Official Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2008 – While calling the recent killing of al-Qaida in Iraq’s No. 2 operator “significant,” a senior defense official emphasized today that succeeding against terrorists requires taking down cells rather than individuals.

Being the No. 2 al-Qaida operative in any organization is “probably the worst job in the world,” in light of the short life expectancy, Bryan Whitman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said.

Coalition forces killed Abu Qaswarah, the second-ranking al-Qaida in Iraq commander, in an Oct. 5 raid in Mosul, Navy Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, announced today in Baghdad. Driscoll said his death “will significantly degrade” terrorist operations in Mosul and northern Iraq.

But recognizing that lower-level terrorists quickly will move up the ladder to fill the void, Whitman emphasized, success against terrorism requires continued vigilance in targeting entire organizations.

Qaswarah’s killing “reminds us that the insurgency and terrorists are not about individuals,” he said. “They are about cells and about decentralized execution in their operations.”

The coalition will continue targeting insurgent and terrorist leaders, Whitman said. “But you have to fight this on a broad effort because of the nature of the organization,” he added.

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