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American Forces Press Service

Coalition Forces Capture High-Priority Weapons Smuggler, 62 Others

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2007 – Coalition forces captured a highly sought “special groups” weapons facilitator before dawn today northeast of Baghdad. In other operations this week, coalition forces captured 54 suspected terrorists and killed 19 terrorists.

Coalition forces conducted a raid to capture a known weapons smuggler and distributor connected to various special groups today. The captured high-priority individual was responsible for smuggling explosively formed penetrators, Katusha rockets and other weapons from Iran into Iraq, military officials said. The target was also responsible for distributing those weapons to special groups and extremist militants operating throughout Baghdad. The weapons smuggler had direct ties to senior militant leaders and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force.

On the approach to the objective, coalition forces were fired upon by three armed gunmen. Coalition forces returned fire, killing the three gunmen.

Five others detained during the raid are suspected of distributing weapons smuggled into Iraq from Iran. Four of the detainees tested positive for explosives residue. One of the buildings searched during the raid produced money and “questionable documents” that were confiscated for analysis and evaluation, U.S. officials reported.

"Coalition troops continue to target terrorists who bring weapons and explosives, especially explosively formed penetrators, and other aid into Iraq," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "Coalition forces will continue their focused operations against unhelpful Iranian influence interfering in Iraq. We remain committed to dismantling terror networks that seek to kill innocent Iraqis and the security forces that protect them."

In other Iraq operations this week:

-- Coalition forces killed seven terrorists and detained 11 suspected terrorists during three coordinated operations yesterday and today east of Samarra.

-- North of Muqdadiyah today, coalition forces targeted a weapons facilitator believed to operate a safe house for al Qaeda in Iraq's foreign terrorist network in the area. Coalition forces engaged and killed one armed terrorist who showed an intent to engage the ground forces as they approached the targeted buildings and five armed men who attempted to elude the force. Coalition forces detained one suspect during the operation.

-- Coalition forces in southern Baghdad today captured a suspected weapons facilitator who also is an explosives expert and has ties to the city's car-bombing network.

-- Iraqi forces with U.S. Special Forces advisors targeted al Qaeda in Iraq and Islamic Army of Iraq terrorist operations in two intelligence-driven operations yesterday across northern Iraq. The forces detained eight suspected terrorists, including the leader of a sniper cell in western Mosul.

-- Soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division, with U.S. Special Forces advisors, conducted a cordon-and-search operation in the village of Abu Bareyj, near Bulayj, and detained seven suspected terrorists Aug. 14. One of the alleged terrorists is a suspected cell leader and is believed to be operating a safe house used by insurgents to conduct attacks in the Bulayj area.

-- Coalition forces killed six terrorists and detained 26 suspected terrorists linked to al Qaeda in Iraq during coordinated operations east of Balad the week of Aug. 9 to 14.

"Terrorists cannot conceal themselves in small villages, disrupting the lives of Iraqi citizens," Garver said. "There are no safe havens for terrorists here; we will continue to seek them out wherever they hide."

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

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