Top Al Qaeda Operative Nabbed In Iraq, and Other Good News

Bill Roggio has the scoop at Long War Journal:

The Iraqi Army claimed to have captured the minister of defense of the Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s political front organization. Ahmed Turki Abbas was captured after being wounded in a skirmish near Mahmudiyah and “claimed the rank of defense minister,” Qassim al Moussawi, Iraq’s military spokesman told Reuters.

Confirmation on the arrest of Abbas — likely a nom de guerre — has not been given by Multinational Forces Iraq at this time. The Iraqi government has made claims of killing and capturing Abu Omar al Baghdadi several times this year, which turned out to be false reports or cases of mistaken identity.

There’s an important caveat there, i.e. that the capture of Ahmed Turki Abbas has not yet been confirmed. If it turns out to be true, however, it is very good news indeed. Not just because another al Qaeda leader was taken down, but also because it was the Iraqi Army that made the capture.

I also thought this was interesting (my emphasis):

After learning of the arrest of Abbas, Marvin Hutchens of agreed with that assessment. “For purely pragmatic reasons, Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq need as many Iraqi names in leadership posts as possible,” said Hutchens in an interview. “They are selling their legitimacy as the Iraqi state and having al Masri known as the minister of defense hides his real role as the foreign leader of an illegitimate insurgent state.”

By making it appear that Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq are headed by real Iraqis, the terrorists hope to influence the populace to take their side. It apparently worked for awhile, but the Awakening Councils seem to have put a stop to that.

U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner said Wednesday that that the creation of groups known as Awakening Councils — which the U.S. military has dubbed Concerned Local Citizens — was a key factor in the reduction of violence.

“This is perhaps one of the most important developments in 2007,” Bergner said. “This was a decision by Iraqi citizens to confront al-Qaida and kick them out of their neighborhoods.”

Hopefully, these councils of citizens can be integrated into the new government. If they can, then I would think that the chances of al Qaeda, it affiliates, or any other terrorist group gaining a foothold in Iraq drop sharply.

In other good news from Iraq, a suspected terror cell leader was captured in Baghdad:

Iraqi Special Operations Forces, with U.S. Special Forces as advisors, detained a suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist cell leader and three additional suspects in two separate raids Dec. 26.

In Baghdad, Iraqi and U.S. Forces detained the leader of an AQI terrorist cell.

Intelligence reports indicated the cell is responsible for several improvised explosive device and sniper attacks against Iraqi and Coalition Forces, as well as the kidnapping and torture of innocent Iraqis.

In Balad, Iraqi and U.S. Special Forces conducted a raid to degrade al-Qaeda in Iraq leadership, deter IED attacks and to prevent the killing of Iraqi citizens.

Three suspects were detained in the raid for questioning.

No Iraqi or U.S. Forces were injured during these operations.

And “insurgents” who kidnapped three soldiers back in May were captured:

Seven U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi army interpreter came under attack Saturday May 12, 2007, during a patrol in a Sunni insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad. Five were killed and three went missing.

Today the US announced that they captured the insurgents responsible for the kidnapping of the 3 US soldiers.

Jim Hoft :

The U.S. military said in a statement it caught the two suspects believed to have ties with al Qaeda on Monday and Tuesday in Ramadi in the western province of Anbar.

One of the men was believed to have “facilitated the kidnapping and is reported to have used his residence to aid in the hiding and transport of the captured soldiers,” it said.

More can be found here.

Finally, it has been confirmed that another senior al Qaeda leader was killed last month:

The U.S. military announced Wednesday that an insurgent killed last month had been identified as a senior leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Separately, a bomb explosion in the northern province of Ninevah killed three children and wounded another two, the U.S. military said, quoting Iraqi police.

Abu Abdullah, also known as Muhammad Sulayman Shunaythir al-Zubai, was killed north of Baghdad on Nov. 8, the military said, calling him “an experienced bomb maker and attack planner who coordinated numerous attacks on Coalition and Iraqi forces over the past three years, using a variety of improvised explosive devices combined with small-arms fire.”

He was also described as a former associate of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — who was slain by U.S. forces last year.

As an aside, if you want to see a pristine example of media bias regarding the war, read the whole AP piece linked above. It is, quite simply, one of the most bizarre attempts to stick bad news in where it does not belong that I’ve ever seen.

In sum, two senior al Qaeda leaders taken out (1 killed and 1 allegedly captured), one suspected terror cell leader nabbed, and two al Qaeda fighters who kidnapped U.S. soldiers taken into custody. That sounds pretty good to me. It’s a wonder we don’t hear more about this stuff.

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