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Iraqis, Coalition Combine to Snare Terror Leaders

American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 19, 2005 – Iraqi soldiers and coalition forces, working together and independently, captured 11 known terrorists in a series of early-morning raids in central and western Baghdad, Iraq, June 17. One other terror suspect was also taken into custody.

Iraqi army soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted the largest operation, shortly after midnight in Abu Ghraib. Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, assisted as a quick-reaction force.

After the raid, Iraqi soldiers had detained and positively identified two terror-cell leaders, a safe house owner, a former Baath party member, and a man wanted for kidnapping and murdering Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians.

The Iraqis also apprehended a major criminal, three lesser criminals and a man believed to have participated in an attack on an Iraqi police station in the area, in the Abu Ghraib district. All of the men were taken into custody for questioning.

Capt. James Alexander, operations officer for 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry, from Columbus, Ohio, said the Iraqi forces were in and out of the area in one hour, and in the end, the mission was well-planned and -executed.

"They moved onto target accurately, with deliberate and precise actions, and they knew what they were going after," Alexander said.

In another early-morning operation, Iraqi soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 1st Iraqi Brigade, seized a known member and financier of a foreign terror cell in the Harbiya district of central Baghdad. The man is also thought to have killed religious leaders in Baghdad's International Zone. Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th BCT, provided a search team and security on the outer cordon.

Staff Sgt. Dan Davis, a patrol leader with B Company, 1st Battalion, 156th Armor Regiment, said the unit provided a protective circle around the perimeter while Iraqi security forces interacted with the people. He said the Iraqi people have grown to respect their own army and would rather see them than foreign forces.

"You could see the confidence in the Iraqi soldiers. Once they realized the detainee was a target, they executed deliberately," Davis said. "These Iraqi army soldiers are our new heroes. They are patriots of Iraq who decided enough was enough."

Later, Task Force Baghdad soldiers conducted another raid to capture members of a known terror cell in the Khadra district of central Baghdad. One member of the cell was killed, and the soldiers took another member into custody for questioning. They also recovered a weapons cache.

"We are gaining the initiative by keeping the upper hand, which will ensure the enemy remains off-balance. Iraq's armed forces are well under way to taking the lead in defeating the insurgency," said Maj. William Borel, chief of current operations for the 256th BCT.

(Article courtesy of the 256th Brigade Combat Team.)

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