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American Forces Press Service

Coalition Troops in Iraq Capture Insurgent Leader

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31, 2007 – Coalition forces in Iraq today captured a suspected insurgent leader during operations to disrupt criminal networks in the Husseiniyah area, military officials reported.

The detainee reportedly is a terrorist recruiter for Karbala province. He also allegedly facilitated terrorists’ training in constructing roadside bombs, as well as operational and computer security.

A large amount of U.S. currency was seized during the operation.

“Coalition and Iraqi security forces are disrupting and dismantling the networks that threaten the ability to provide safety and security for the Iraqi people,” said Navy Capt. Vic Beck, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

Earlier, coalition forces killed six terrorists and detained 14 suspects during anti-al Qaeda operations in central and northern Iraq that began Dec. 29 and ended yesterday.

Coalition forces swept the Muqdadiyah area yesterday and targeted alleged associates of insurgents killed during Dec. 29 operations. Coalition forces killed two armed suspects who fired on them.

Coalition forces found two weapons caches, including 10 rifles, eight grenades, four military-style assault vests with 20 loaded magazines, 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and rocket propellant. One of the armed men was wearing a suicide vest. Seven suspected terrorists also were detained during the operation.

Farther north in Mosul yesterday, coalition forces detained six suspected al Qaeda terrorists.

North of Muqdadiyah on Dec. 29, coalition forces targeted associates of the al Qaeda network operating in the northeast Diyala River Valley. One armed terrorists was killed early during the operation.

Coalition forces then continued on and were engaged by enemy fire. The ground force returned fire, killing three more terrorists. While clearing the area, the ground force discovered numerous weapons, including several machine guns, military-style assault vests and magazines, improvised explosive devices, and a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher and rounds. In addition to the weapons, coalition forces safely destroyed a vehicle used for terrorist activity.

Also, coalition forces captured a wanted individual during a Dec. 29 raid west of Mahmudiyah. The detainee reportedly is a leader in the city’s al Qaeda cell who also established a training center for female suicide bombers in Yusufiyah.

“Iraqi and coalition forces are focused on clearing and holding areas where terrorists think they can hide,” said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “Together, we are disrupting terrorist operations and working to improve safety and security for Iraqi citizens.”

In other Dec. 29 Iraq operations, coalition forces killed three terrorists and detained 34 suspects during operations targeting al Qaeda in central and northern Iraq.

-- North of Tikrit, coalition forces targeted an associate of the al Qaeda network in Kirkuk province. The targeted individual was reported to be a terrorist financial and supply specialist. When coalition forces arrived in the operations area they called for the suspects to come out of a building. The coalition force was then fired upon, and air support was called in. Three terrorists were killed during the engagement. As the ground force cleared the area, they found a suicide belt and vest and numerous weapons.

-- In another operation north of Tikrit, coalition forces captured an individual believed to be a member of the al Qaeda network. The detainee also is allegedly associated with the al Qaeda cell in Samarra. Six other suspects also were detained during the operation.

-- West of Tarmiyah, coalition forces captured a wanted individual believed to be a close associate of the al Qaeda in Iraq senior leader north of Baghdad. The network is responsible for the majority of car-bombing and improvised-explosive-device attacks in the area, as well as being involved in extortion, intimidation, weapons trafficking and facilitating foreign terrorists. The ground force detained 21 other suspected terrorists during the series of operations. Coalition forces also destroyed one building believed to be used as a safe house for terrorist operations.

-- In Mosul, coalition forces detained five suspected terrorists during an operation targeting al Qaeda in Iraq. In the past few weeks, coalition forces have detained three wanted individuals and more than 26 suspected terrorists associated with the al Qaeda network in Mosul. “Terrorists have no safe haven in Iraq,” said Navy Cmdr. Ed Buclatin, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “We will continue our operations to hunt down al Qaeda in Iraq’s leaders and operatives and to foil their attempts to destabilize the country.”

-- In southern Iraq, coalition forces detained six suspected terrorists. In the Daghgharah area, coalition forces targeted a suspected terrorist leader and weapons trainer who allegedly specialized in rocket-propelled-grenade and mortar attacks against coalition forces. “Much progress has been made in the pursuit of criminal elements,” said Navy Cmdr. Scott Rye, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “Yet, dangerous elements still exist. Iraqi and coalition forces remain committed to protecting the Iraqi people from these vicious criminals.”

In earlier operations:

-- Iraqi soldiers discovered a large weapons cache in Mansour, a district in western Baghdad, Dec. 28. The Iraqi soldiers found two mortar tubes, 86 mortar rounds, five improvised rocket launchers, 10 rockets, two rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, seven RPG rounds, six hand grenades, and various bomb-making materials. “This was an independent operation by the Iraqi army soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division,” said Army Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a Multinational Division Baghdad spokesman. “The recovery of these items is another indication the Iraqi security forces are increasing in capability. Taking these items away from the extremists is a good thing for the Iraqi people.”

-- U.S. and Iraqi soldiers found three improvised explosive devices and a weapons cache during joint operations in Saydiyah on Dec. 27. During a house-to-house search, U.S. and Iraqi soldiers found an IED hidden behind a door, another IED between two houses, and a buried IED. Ten 120 mm mortars also were found in a courtyard. The captured munitions were safely detonated.

-- Members of a concerned local citizen group seized a cache of munitions east of the city of Nijidat on Dec. 26. The cache contained: 23 rocket motors, two 82 mm mortars, four 81 mm illumination shells, a rocket-propelled grenade, a 115 mm high-explosive tank round, a 106 mm high-explosive anti-tank round and several other explosive items, including an artillery fuse. The local citizens group delivered the cache to Forward Operating Base Hammer, where Army Capt. Chas Cannon, commander of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, met with the group. “The (concerned local citizens) allow us to focus more on governance and economics,” Cannon said. “The fact we have help out there with security allows us to maintain our focus on essential services and the local Iraqi government.”

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

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