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Troops Track Terrorists, Prevent Attacks Over Holiday Weekend

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 4, 2005 – U.S. military forces spent the Fourth of July holiday weekend hunting down insurgents and stopping deadly bombs attacks throughout Iraq, military officials Baghdad reported.

At least 100 suspected terrorists, some of them foreign fighters, were detained today, as Operation Muthana Strike was launched. Some of the captured foreign fighters are from Egypt, officials said. The operation involved about 600 Iraqi army soldiers and 250 Task Force Baghdad soldiers, and was based on credible information from local residents' tips. It targeted terrorist safe houses in the neighborhoods adjacent to the west side of Baghdad International Airport.

Also today, Task Force Baghdad soldiers caught a man red-handed trying to detonate a roadside bomb along a highway south of the city. The military said soldiers patrolling in south Baghdad at around 2 a.m. noticed two sets of wires leading to the side of a highway. The patrol followed the wires to a bunker with an overhead cover and found a man with a spool of wire inside.

One of the two sets of wires was already burned, possibly indicating that someone already tried to detonate the bomb, officials said. The other set of wires led to a secondary bomb. The suspect was taken into custody for questioning.

A large weapons and ammunition cache was discovered inside a house west of Risalah today. U.S. soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, found the cache during a random knock-and-search operation. Weapons and ammunition found included a U.S. body armor vest, four AK-47 assault rifles, two improvised rocket-propelled grenade launchers, two 82 mm mortars, three RPGs, 300 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, two 60 mm mortars and 10 grenades. Soldiers also found three new Iraqi police uniforms.

As many as 40 suspected terrorists were detained July 3 after attacking a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol near Yusufiyah. The attack started when the patrol struck an improvised explosive device, then came under small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Five Iraqi army soldiers were killed in the attack, and three were wounded. Three local citizens also were wounded. There was no report of U.S. casualties.

The military also reported that several possible bomb attacks were foiled by the alert actions of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. West of Baghdad on July 3, Iraqi army soldiers prevented a terrorist car-bomb attack after spotting the vehicle parked on the side of a major highway. Inside the vehicle, soldiers found wires around the steering column, four mortar rounds, one land mine and a radio with wire connected to the car. An explosives team safely detonated the car bomb. Citizens in the area said the driver had parked the car, got into a taxi, and left.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police at the Zuhor station seized a powerful car bomb July 3 from three suspected terrorists apparently preparing for an attack on the station. The car bomb included 20 rockets, 25 rocket-propelled grenades, 25 hand grenades, three bags of TNT and nine cases of mortar rounds. Iraqi police killed one of the suspects and captured another. A third suspect escaped.

Earlier in the day, Task Force Baghdad soldiers on patrol spotted a roadside bomb near a highway in northern Baghdad. The military said the bomb detonated prematurely, and no one was injured.

Task Force soldiers found two other roadside bombs hidden near major highways in western Baghdad.

Military officials in Iraq announced the capture last month of al Qaeda operative Imad Nassar Ahmed Amarah, also known as Abu Hamza, in Mosul. The Tunisian born terrorist specialized in importing suicide bombers, officials said. The military said Amarah ran a series of suicide bomber safe houses in the Mosul area for Abu Ibrahim, who was killed by security forces.

Amarah's job was to facilitate bringing suicide bombers and foreign fighters into the Mosul area.

Evidence collected indicated that more than 100 suicide bombers have passed through and operated out of his terrorist safe houses, officials said.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Task Force Baghdad news releases.)

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