Iraq Report: Al Qaeda leaders targeted, Anbar tribe turns against al Qaeda
The Iraqi Interior Ministry claimed that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda's political front the Islamic State of Iraq, has been killed during combat in the town of Dhuluiya in Salahadin province. This comes just two days after the ministry and other government officials claims Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was killed in Salahadin. Multinational Forces Iraq has not confirmed the death of either terrorist leader, but did state it killed Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri, al Qaeda in Iraq's senior minister of information.
The Islamic State of Iraq denied al Baghdadi was killed, but did confirm Muharib Abdul Latif al Jubouri was killed. Al Jubouri was "indicated to be the Emir of the Strangers Brigades, a group which joined with the Mujahideen Shura Council in its founding in January 2006," according to the SITE Institute. He "was selected as the official spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq, having appeared in videos announcing its establishment and its cabinet of ministers." The Iraqi Interior Ministry believes al Jubouri and Baghdadi are one in the same person, which al Qaeda disputes.
The effort to nab al Jubouri was part of Operation Ratrap, a six day operation against al Qaeda targets In other Coalition operations, 11 al Qaeda operatives were captured during raids against the network in Mosul and Karma. The Karma raid resulted in the discovery of "IED-making materials and a double-barreled anti-aircraft weapon." A joint U.S. and Iraqi patrol in Southern Baghdad resulted in the capture for 4 insurgents, while another 3 insurgents were captured after a clash at a checkpoint.
The news of al Jubouri's death comes as the Anbar Salvation Council scored a major victory against al Qaeda in Iraq. Sam Dagher of the Christian Science Monitor reports on how the Anbar Salvation Council, led by Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Rishawi, turned the Albu Fahd tribe against al Qaeda. The Albu Fahd was one of the six original Anbari tribes to support al Qaeda and its Islamic State in Iraq. These six tribes are known in some military intelligence circles as the "Sinister Six". The Albu Fahd [described as the Bu-Fahed] has now joined the Anbar Salvation Council and pledged to throw its weight behind the fight against al Qaeda.
"Winning over the Bu-Fahed tribe was a coup," said Mr. Dagher, who covered the tribal meeting where the Albu Fahd moved into the camp of the Anbar Salvation Council. "It had been one of Al Qaeda's staunchest supporters, and traces its lineage to the birthplace of the puritan form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism in the Saudi Arabian province of Najd. It formally threw its lot behind Sheikh Abdel-Sattar Abu Risha." the pickup of the Albu Fahd comes as the Anbar Salvation Council has made gains outside of its home province and is expanding in Diyala, Salahadin and Baghdad.
In the city of Baqubah in the al Qaeda sanctuary of Diyala province, U.S. forces retook the Tahrir neighborhood after a week of hard fighting. U.S. forces encountered hard fighting and prepared al Qaeda traps and fighting positions. The 1920s Revolution Brigades, a Sunni insurgent group now aligned with the Anbar Salvation Council, fought pitched battles against al Qaeda in Baqubah before being forced to withdrawal after running out of ammunition.
In Baghdad, 4 Filipino contractors were killed in a rocket attack on the Green Zone. The Islamic Army in Iraq, which recently split from al-Qaeda's front and formed the rival Reformation and Jihad Front, claimed credit for the attack.
Operations against Mahdi Army cells continue in Muqtada al Sadr's stronghold of Sadr City. "The individuals targeted during the raid are suspected members of a secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training," notes the Multinational Forces Iraq press release. "Intelligence reports also indicate the secret cell has ties to a kidnapping network that conducts attacks within Iraq."