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Raid Nabs Enemy Recruiter, Mortar-Team Leader

By Staff Sgt. Rebekah-mae Bruns, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Oct. 18, 2004 – A raid launched today by Company C, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment of the Army's 39th Brigade Combat Team netted a suspected cell leader and recruiter for anti-Iraqi mortar teams in eastern Baghdad.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Staff Sgt. Robert Fisher, 37, of Carlisle, Ark., sifts through bomb-making material found at a suspect's house during a raid launched today by Company C, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment of the Army's 39th Brigade Combat Team in eastern Baghdad. Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebekah-mae Bruns, USA
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Company leaders claim the individual was the brains behind nearly 200 mortars targeting their 1.5-acre compound since the unit's arrival in Baghdad in April.

Platoon Sgt. Robert Fisher, 37, of Carlisle, Ark., said the man was difficult to find because he frequently moved to avoid capture. "He had several places he lived," said Fisher. "He didn't stay in one spot." The suspect was purported to have dwellings in Fallujah and the Baghdad neighborhoods of Damyia and Rusafa.

The Arkansas-based Company C has destroyed three mortar teams over the past several months. The individual captured on this mission is reportedly responsible for recruiting those and other teams from Fallujah.

"He was bringing other teams in from Fallujah in order to hit us simultaneously with mortars from two different locations," Fisher said. "He was the brain bringing them in and firing us up."

Upon searching the suspect's house, soldiers found a mortar tube, mortar plate and material used to create roadside improvised explosive devices. Next to mortar attacks, IEDs are one of the most common methods insurgents use to kill or injure American troops in Iraq.

Soldiers said the captured individual cooperated with officials, giving names and locations of mortar team members underneath him in hopes of an easier sentence. "We tell them that if they cooperate, it will make their sentence easier," Fisher said. "We tell them we're not here to hurt them."

The raiding party -- on its fourth combat mission in two days -- searched the house without resistance. Soldiers were in and out within 20 minutes, giving no time for a counterattack by insurgents.

"I do like to get the bad guy," Fisher said.

Despite capturing a suspected cell leader, the soldiers stopped short of claiming victory. "It was a relief to know we got the main cell leader, but there are still mortar teams out there in our sector," said Fisher. "The threat is still there."

(Army Staff Sgt. Rebekah-mae Bruns is assigned to the 39th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

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Related Sites:
Multinational Force Iraq

Click photo for screen-resolution imageThis detainee, captured today, was reportedly recruiting men from Fallujah to work with mortar teams in Baghdad against multinational forces in eastern Baghdad. Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebekah-mae Bruns, USA  
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