Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has provided clarity to the controversial provision of amnesty for insurgents who killed U.S. and Coalition soldiers. “Any amnesty for insurgents will exclude fighters who killed Iraqis or soldiers of the multinational forces because these troops came to Iraq according to international agreements and they are contributing in making the political process successful… Those who commit such crimes will stand trial because the aim of killing Iraqis or foreign soldiers is to frustrate democracy and the political process.” said al-Maliki, according to the Associated Press.
As I speculated in yesterday’s National Review Online symposium, this amnesty is very likely directed at the “foot soldiers and mid-level functionaries (weapons smugglers, support cells, and facilitators).” But for a broader reconciliation plan to work, the Iraqi government will likely have to modify this position over time.
Omar at Iraq the Model reports three additional insurgent groups are interested in discussing reconciliation, and the Iraqi government is also beginning discussions with “more than 30 sheikhs who are prominent tribal leaders in al-Anbar region” who wish to end the violence in the region. Several tribes in Anbar have previously committed to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists and created the Anbar Revenge Brigade to do so earlier this year.
Coalition forces arrested Yousri Fakher Mohammed Ali, “a key al-Qaida suspect” wanted in the destruction of the dome of the Shiite Al Askari Mosque in Samarra (or Golden Mosque). Ali, aka Abu Qudama, is of Tunisian origin, was wounded during a raid in Baquba, where “fifteen other foreign fighters were killed in the confrontation.” Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman, his spiritual adviser, were killed during an air strike in Baquba earlier this month.
“[National Security Adviser] Mouwafak al-Rubaie said the ringleader in the operation, an Iraqi he identified as Haitham Sabah Shaker Mohammed al-Badri, was still on the run. al-Rubaie said Abu Qudama and al-Badri were in a gang that included two other Iraqis and four Saudis who carried out the attack,” according to the Associated Press.
Task Force 145 struck in Yusifiyah two days ago, and captured fourteen terrorists during multiple raids. Included in the catch were “known leaders of the Tawhid Wa’al Jihad and Jaysh al-Islamit” terrorist groups. Yusifiyah has been another al Qaeda stronghold, and multiple raids have been carried out in this city. The full version of Zarqawi’s last videotape was recovered in Yusifiyah, and Zarqawi was believed to have narrowly evaded capture during a Coalition assault on al Qaeda safe houses in April.
In related news, al Qaeda has made an interesting enemy in the Iraqi theater. After the murder and beheadings of four Russian diplomats and the subsequent release of videotape, Olivier Guitta speculated Russia might seek revenge. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin has “ordered Russia’s special services to hunt down and ‘destroy’ the killers of four Russian diplomats in Iraq.” Odds are Russian FSB is seeking access to Task Force 145’s files on al Qaeda in Iraq.