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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Insurgents `relieved' to be captured by Iraqi police

SAMARRA, Iraq (Army News Service, March 14, 2005) - Iraqi police commandos seized illicit weapons and captured several insurgents over the weekend, including a Saudi who denounced the insurgency and reportedly said he was "relieved" to be captured.

The apprehensions began March 11 when the Police Commando's 1st Battalion set up a series of flash checkpoints west of Samarra. An approaching vehicle saw the checkpoint, turned and attempted to escape, according to multi-national officials. The commandos pursued them and the vehicle crashed and flipped after the commandos shot their tires.

Captured in the vehicle were three suspects -- a Saudi, a Syrian, and an Iraqi -- all who had rifles and grenades with them in the vehicle. Officials state the Syrian provided a partial confession for his involvement in a number of attacks, including destruction of the oil pipeline that runs to the west of Samarra.

The Saudi cooperated with officials and confessed involvement in one attempted attack on multi-national forces.

Officials say that the Saudi eagerly gave detailed accounts of how he was recruited by the insurgency, his motives to join the insurgency, how he traveled to Iraq and how he joined the insurgency. In addition the Saudi, a former college student, provided information on his training, locations of training sites, tactics he was taught and attacks he was instructed to conduct.

The insurgent's training, according to the Saudi, consisted of shooting 45 rounds with an AK-47 and familiarization with an rocket propelled grenade launcher, a weapon he did not fire because his trainers said it was "too expensive" to fire.

The Saudi said he and his group planned to attack a U.S. dismounted patrol several weeks ago, but a U.S. sniper shot one of the insurgents, killing him, and the insurgents cancelled the attack. Additionally, the Saudi told officials he joined the terrorists in Iraq primarily to target the U.S. military, but he quickly became disillusioned with the insurgents after only several weeks.

Part of the Saudi's disappointment with the insurgents, officials said, was that the insurgents did not pray regularly and "were only interested in money." The insurgents, the Saudi said, were preoccupied with hijacking vehicles and the value of vehicles.

The Saudi admitted to officials that he "had made a huge mistake" by joining the insurgency and that he had a very different view of American Soldiers after watching them operate in Iraq. He had seen U.S. Soldiers giving candy to children and on one occasion, a U.S. Soldier waved to him.

The captured insurgent went on to say that he didn't believe he would be a martyr if he died in Iraq, repeating several times to interviewers that insurgents were just involved for profit. When officials asked the Saudi why he didn't leave the insurgency, he said he felt like a captive and feared for his life. He was relieved, he added, to be captured by the commandos.

That same day, the 3rd Police Commando Battalion captured 10 suspected insurgents based on intelligence obtained from detainees already in custody, and on March 12, the 1st Police Commando Battalion conducted a raid in a small village outside Balad based on a tip received by the commandos from a villager. The tip was accurate as the commandos netted five insurgents.

The 3rd Battalion also discovered a sizeable cache of weapons in Samarra containing several new RPG launchers with night sights, ammunition, 50 mortar rounds, 12 grenades and two improvised explosive devices. Officials said the cache was under the floor of a house. Officials were led to the house after another tip informed the commandos of the cache.

On March 13, the 3rd Battalion continued to find weapons caches, this time, one located in a Samarra cemetery. The commandos recovered an RPG launcher, a 60mm mortar with 12 rounds, a machine gun with several hundred rounds, and various artillery rounds and detonation cord.

After the bulk of the operations ended, Gen. Adnan Thabit, the Ministry of Interior special adviser to the commandos, chaired a meeting attended by community leaders in the Samarra area. The mayor, temporary police chief, senior religious leader and tribal sheiks discussed the operations. Community leaders support the commando presence, officials say.

Adnan reported that citizens are steadily providing information about insurgents. Three separate IEDs were found and destroyed as a result of tips to Adnan's office. The commandos are also receiving reports at their checkpoints: the 1st Battalion's executive officer was handed a note at a checkpoint telling him where a known terrorist was sleeping.

Officials said that city improvements will soon begin in Samarra, including sanitation services, restoring electricity, and a major effort to repair roads and water lines.

(Editor's Note: Information provided by the Multinational Security Transition Command - Iraq.)

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