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Civil affairs soldiers apprehend car thief in Baghdad

Army News Service

Release Date: 6/18/2003

By Spc. Ryan Smith June 19, 2003

BAGHDAD (Army News Service, June 19, 2003) -- While five soldiers from Tactical Support Team 4, 411th Civil Affairs Battalion were en route to the battalion headquarters to deliver the unit's mail, a crowd of shouting Iraqi citizens informed the soldiers that a carjacking was taking place nearby.

"There were about a dozen Iraqis shouting 'Ali Baba,'" said Maj. Joseph Charles Sasso, commander of Tactical Support Team 4. "They saw military forces and alerted us that a carjacking had taken place, and that there were armed men in the vehicle."

On seeing the American soldiers in pursuit, the two men in the suspect vehicle, a blue minivan with commercial taxi license plates, drove away, Sasso said. The suspects turned the corner, and then jumped out of the vehicle.

The soldiers pursued the suspects on foot and apprehended the driver while the other man escaped.

"We ran about a block and captured and secured the prisoner," Sgt. Lou Poma, a civil affairs specialist with the 411th CA Bn. and a police officer back home, said.

Upon searching the vehicle, the soldiers discovered an AK-47 rifle and an Iraqi 9 mm pistol, both weapons loaded and ready to be fired, Sasso said.

After searching the vehicle, the soldiers brought the prisoner and the vehicle to the 19th Military Police Brigade, which will process the detainee and turn him over to Iraqi civil authorities, according to Sasso.

Though the team's primary mission is to assist the rebuilding of infrastructure in its area of operations in east Baghdad, the soldiers also focus on security and public safety, Sasso said.

"We have an obligation to act upon any threat to law and order," he said.

(Editor's note: Spc. Ryan Smith is a journalist with the 372nd MPAD in Iraq)

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