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Key Talha Leaders Captured

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2005 – Multinational Forces detained a key leader of the al Qaeda-linked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi terrorist network in Mosul in late December, officials in Baghdad announced today.

Following a thorough investigation, the individual detained was positively identified as Abdul Aziz Sadun Ahmed Hamduni, aka Abu Ahmed.

Abu Ahmed, who was captured Dec. 22, served as a deputy to the emir of Mosul, Abu Talha, and assumed command of terrorist operations in Mosul in Abu Talha's absence, officials said. Abu Ahmed admitted to receiving money and weapons from Abu Talha as well as coordinating and conducting terrorist attacks in Mosul.

"The capture of Abu Ahmed and the subsequent capture of Abu Marwan on 23 December show significant progress in the inevitable destruction of the Abu Talha-led Al Qaeda Zarqawi terrorist network in Mosul," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Erwin F. "Erv" Lessel III, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq.

Security forces in Iraq have previously announced the capture of Abu Marwan, also a senior-level terrorist in the Talha organization. Security forces also recently captured another senior Talha member whose name cannot be released due to operational security.

"Currently, security forces in Iraq have three of Abu Talha's four most senior leaders in custody," Lessel said.

The capture of these key members has led to additional captures throughout the Mosul-based AQ-AMZ network. Officials said more than 20 percent of Talha's key members have been captured in the past few weeks.

Abu Ahmed's capture removed one of Abu Talha's most valuable officers from the Mosul-based network. Abu Ahmed remains in detention and is providing information regarding the Talha network.

"These terrorists and Saddamists are doing all they can to stop upcoming elections," Lessel said. "They fear democracy and the day when the Iraqi people vote for a representative government. The vote by the Iraqi people will reject everything the terrorists stand for -- killing innocents, depriving people of food, electricity."

The use of car bombs and other explosive devices by Abu Ahmed and his affiliates shows disregard for the well-being and security of innocent Iraqi civilians. Officials said the Central Criminal Court of Iraq is committed to providing a fair trial to those allegedly engaging in terrorist activities.

(Based on a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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Biographies:
Brig. Gen. Erwin F. "Erv" Lessel III, USAF

Related Sites:
Multinational Force Iraq



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