Daily Iraq Report for March 27, 2007
Iraqi and Coalition forces have been pressing hard to dismantle al Qaeda's suicide and car bomb infrastructure in and around Baghdad. Over the past week, some success has been made in attacking the leadership of these networks. Three senior commanders of al Qaeda bombing cells have been captured. Since Saturday, there have been no major bombings inside Baghdad.
On March 21, U.S. troops from the 82nd Airborne Division captured the leader and the second in command of the deadly Adhamiyah cell, which is believed to responsible for the murder of 900 Iraqis and wounding another 1,950. The cell is believed to be responsible for the majority of the major suicide and truck bombs inside Sadr City. Haytham Kazim Abdallah Al-Shimari, the 'emir' or leader of the cell, along with his driver were captured after attempting to avoid a U.S. patrol. Haydar Rashid Nasir Al-Shammari Al-Jafar, Haytham's deputy, and two aides, were captured in a separate incident, also while traveling in Baghdad.
On March 20, the Iraqi security forces announced the capture of Ahmad Farhan, an emir of al Qaeda in Iraq. Farhan and two aides were captured in Abu Ghraib, which is on the outskirts of western Baghdad. Abu Ghraib is the gateway to Anbar province.
Brigadier General Qassem Atta, an Iraqi Army spokesman, "played a videotape showing Farhan confessing to his ties with a wanted man called Abu Omar al-Baghdadi." Abu Omar al-Baghdadi is the leader of al Qaeda's political front, the Islamic State in Iraq. "I receive support from Syria and Jordan and have got four groups with an emir and 25 members for each," said Farhan. He is believed have murdered over 300 Iraqis and kidnapped another 200. These leaders will be interrogated in an effort to dismantle their terror cells and gain knowledge on al Qaeda's organization.
Meanwhile, Iraqi and Coalition forces press the hunt for al Qaeda in Iraq. On March 23, a joint U.S. and Iraqi operation south of Baghdad led to the capture of 31 insurgents and the discovery of a large weapons cache. On March 24, Iraqi National Police found over 470 anti-tank mines in Sadr City after receiving a tip from a resident. U.S. forces killed 5 al Qaeda and captured another 22 during raids in Taji and Karma over the past 4 days. In Karma five five DShK anti-aircraft heavy machine guns were found. Karma was the scene of the downing of Marine CH-46 helicopter by al Qaeda in February. Coalition forces captured another 4 al Qaeda in raids in Mosul, Tarmiyah and Fallujah.
As operations against al Qaeda in Iraq continue, the Sunni insurgent groups and tribes continue to peal away from al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Qaeda's assassination and intimidation campaign has alienated the terror group from large segments of its nature support base. This process has been ongoing since mid 2005, when U.S. forces watched insurgents battle al Qaeda in faraway regions such as Al Qaim.
As we've reported extensively in the past, the Anbar Salvation Council, a grouping of the Anbari tribes and elements of insurgent groups such as the 1920s Revolution Brigades and the Islamic Army of Iraq, have organized to oppose al Qaeda. A pitched battle outside Amiriya in early March highlighted the organization of the Anbar Salvation Council.
The Anbar Salvation Council recently claimed killing over 70 al Qaeda, including 4 Saudis during battles over the past two weeks in Abu Ghraib. The Zubaie tribe in Abu Ghraib has begun to fight al Qaeda as well, after the terrorist group claimed responsibility for the assassination of Salam al-Zubaie, one of Iraq's two Deputy Prime Ministers. Al Qaeda responded today with a suicide attack in Ramadi, which targeted "a restaurant frequented by Iraqi police on a main road north of Ramadi." Seventeen are reported killed and dozens wounded.
The American media has picked up on this development. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad noted that there are serious negotiations between the insurgent groups and the U.S. "Iraqis are uniting against Al Qaeda," Khalilzad said. "Coalition commanders have been able to engage some insurgents to explore ways to collaborate in fighting the terrorists." The Iraqi government has offered reconciliation and has begun to support groups such as the Anbar Salvation Council.
"The [Iraqi] government has proposed a trial cease-fire period to the 1920 Revolution Brigade, the Islamic Army in Iraq and other factions in western Baghdad," notes the Los Angeles Times. "In return, the Iraqi government would mount a major reconstruction drive in battle-scarred Sunni areas, a senior member of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Islamic Dawa Party said."
Reconciliation with the Sunni insurgent groups is the key component to ending Sunni insurgency and beginning the dismantlement of al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Qaeda will do everything in its power to derail the reconciliation process.