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Forces Capture Suspected al Qaeda Commander, Detain 11 Others in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2007 – Coalition forces captured a wanted individual and detained 11 others today during an operation in support of ongoing efforts to stabilize the region.

The captured suspect is a “special groups” commander with close ties to several other criminal organization members. Intelligence reports further indicate the suspect conducted multiple types of criminal operations in the Khalis and Qasirin areas. The suspected criminal appears to be directly linked to providing lethal weapons used against coalition and Iraqi security forces and innocent civilians, officials said.

“Coalition forces will continue to apply pressure to splinter groups that are not honoring (Muqtada al-)Sadr’s pledge to cease attacks,” said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “Groups honoring the pledge have made Iraq a safer place, and criminal elements dishonoring Sadr’s pledge cannot be allowed to destabilize Iraq.”

In other operations today, coalition forces killed three terrorists during an operation targeting al Qaeda networks in Kirkuk. The forces were targeting an alleged al Qaeda leader in the Tamim province. The individual allegedly has ties to several terrorist senior leaders operating throughout Iraq and is believed to be involved in a variety of roles within the network, including oversight of assassinations and car-bombing attacks.

Upon arrival to the area, the ground forces called for the target building’s occupants to come out. As they were awaiting response, coalition forces observed a group of men maneuvering toward them from the rooftop. The ground force engaged and killed three terrorists. “We’re continuously assaulting al Qaeda in Iraq to bring down the networks conducting vicious attacks against the Iraqi people,” Danielson said.

In operations earlier this week:

-- Iraqi special operations soldiers advised by U.S. Special Forces troops conducted a raid Oct. 29 in Khadra, detaining a suspected al Qaeda terrorist network leader and three others. The commander is believed to lead four insurgent groups who are suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces and terrorizing local civilians. Coalition forces believe he and his network are involved in attacks on Iraqi infrastructure and medical facilities, including the burning of Iraq's main medication storehouse.

-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers acting on a tip found a large weapons cache in the Doura neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Oct. 29. Soldiers found the cache hidden behind a false wall in a local residence. The cache consisted of an assault rifle, a flak vest, a military medical bag, an M-249 ammo bag and four M-4 magazines, 30 blasting caps, 69 hand grenades, three anti-armor grenades, two 40 mm grenades, 13 mortar rounds of various sizes and two 60 mm mortar tubes. The unit also found four rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, 13 launcher rounds, three propellant sticks, a bag of detonation cord, 10 AK-47 assault rifles, a machine gun, two sniper rifles with scopes, a rifle, a 9 mm pistol, two machine guns with extra barrels, 63 AK-47 magazines, 2 ammo cans, and 320 linked and 40 loose rounds.

-- Concerned local citizens from Buaytha reported the location of a large weapons cache to coalition forces Oct. 28. Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, went with an explosive ordnance disposal team to the location of the cache to assess it. The cache contained several mortar rounds that were rigged with detonation cord, making them ready to be emplaced as IEDs.

-- Operation Rock Hammer III, a joint Iraqi and coalition operation in southwestern Baqouba, resulted in the discovery of six weapons caches and a bomb-making factory Oct. 28, significantly reducing the enemy's supply network. The caches and factory consisted of more than 150 pounds of explosives; 47 fire extinguishers, four of which were already filled with explosives; five rocket-propelled grenades; more than 10 assorted mortar rounds; and a variety of IED materials such as strands of copper wire, initiating devices, batteries and oxygen canisters. Multiple small-arms munitions and terrorist propaganda flyers also were discovered.

"The discovery of these caches continues to limit the terrorists' ability to conduct acts of disgrace against the population and the security forces," said Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of coalition forces in Diyala province. "The Iraqi security forces, in partnership with my soldiers, will continue to aggressively and persistently attack the enemy's perceived safe havens. They are not welcome in Diyala and will not disrupt the progression of the province."

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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Related Sites:
Multinational Force Iraq
Multinational Corps Iraq


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