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American Forces Press Service

Forces Detain 27 Suspects While Targeting al Qaeda Networks in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2007 – Coalition forces detained 27 suspects yesterday during operations targeting al Qaeda networks in central and northern Iraq.

-- Forces captured three wanted individuals during operations in Baghdad while targeting foreign terrorist and weapons facilitators. Reports indicate al Qaeda members were trying to establish a foreign terrorist network in the city. In addition to the wanted individuals, coalition forces detained four suspects without incident.

-- Coalition forces captured a wanted individual believed to be an al Qaeda leader and foreign-terrorist associate in Baji. Coalition forces detained one other suspect during the operation.

-- During continued operations targeting foreign terrorist facilitators, coalition forces detained seven suspects in Mosul without incident.

-- In a series of coordinated operations around Samarra and Baghdad, coalition forces captured one wanted individual and detained 10 other suspects while targeting al Qaeda’s media network. During one of the operations, forces found two sets of homemade body armor vests and two sets of armor plates, which they safely destroyed to prevent further use by terrorists.

"Iraqi and coalition operations are diminishing al Qaeda's ability to attack the Iraqi people," said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "More Iraqi citizens are coming forward and helping us find terrorist networks; foreign terrorists are not welcome in a free Iraq."

In operations on Nov. 17:

-- Coalition forces targeted al Qaeda’s media and courier networks during operations northeast of Samarra. As the ground force approached the target building, armed men inside engaged them with heavy fire. Responding in self-defense, coalition forces engaged, killing two terrorists. Coalition forces engaged additional armed men, killing four. As the ground force secured the targeted buildings, they found three of the terrorists killed were wearing suicide vests, including one that had detonated. They also found a weapons cache, improvised explosive device-making materials and a media cache. Coalition forces called for supporting aircraft to safely destroy the two buildings, which were assessed to be structurally unsafe.

-- Coalition forces detained three suspects from two other locations during the operations in northeast Samarra. Supporting coalition aircraft safely destroyed two known al Qaeda safe houses to prevent further use by terrorists.

-- Coalition forces captured a wanted individual during operations targeting foreign terrorist facilitators, couriers and associates of senior al Qaeda leaders in Baghdad. In addition to the wanted individual, forces detained five other suspects without incident.

-- Coalition forces detained one suspect while targeting al Qaeda during operations southwest of Kirkuk. Reports indicate the targeted individual is believed to be planning terrorist attacks in the region and is associated with al Qaeda leaders in Mosul.

-- Coalition forces killed one terrorist during operations targeting “special groups” criminal elements north of Baghdad, in the Rashidiya area. The targeted individual was reportedly a main logistics facilitator for elements in central Iraq, and the chief financial advisor to criminal elements in the Diyala province. The suspected criminal was also reportedly an associate of several other senior-level splinter group leaders who were involved in attacks on coalition forces. As ground forces approached the target building, a man exited the building armed with an assault rifle and maneuvered against them. Responding in self-defense, ground forces engaged the individual, killing him.

"Security improvements are being made in Iraqi communities, but dangerous elements still exist," Danielson said. "Iraqi and coalition forces remain committed to protecting the Iraqi people from violent criminals."

In operations Nov. 16:

-- Iraqi Army forces, advised by U.S. Special Forces, detained two suspected extremists and killed one extremist in a cordon and search operation in Sadiyah. The operation was conducted to counter increased activity by al Qaeda in the area. During the operation, the Iraqi forces establishing the cordon were attacked, resulting in the death of one Iraqi soldier and the wounding of another. An aerial weapons team identified and engaged the enemy responsible for the attack, resulting in one enemy fighter killed.

-- Iraqi security forces and U.S. Special Forces detained an alleged extremist during a raid targeting extremist activity in Diwaniyah. The detainee is believed to belong to an extremist group responsible for selling weapons and murdering Iraqi army soldiers.

-- Members of the Iraqi army and Iraqi security volunteers conducted a raid of the cemetery adjacent to the Abu Hanifa Mosque in Adhamiyah, seizing a cache of weapons hidden in two pits disguised as graves. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division provided the outer cordon and an explosive ordnance disposal team to support the cache seizure. In the two simulated graves, the volunteers led Iraqi forces to seven rocket-propelled grenade launchers, nine RPG rounds, a sniper rifle with scope, 13 rifles, 14 hand grenades, hundreds of rounds of small arms ammunition and various IED-making items.

"This discovery and seizure will have a significant, long-term effect in Adhamiyah," said Army Capt. Joseph Brooks, a staff officer with the 7th Cavalry Regiment. "It also shows that the (Iraqi security volunteers are) not afraid of defending the Abu Hanifa Mosque against anti-Iraqi forces."

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

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