Iraq Report: HVTs, Iranian ops, and AQ attacks
After unconfirmed reports of the deaths of Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al Masri and Islamic State in Iraq leader Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the situation appears to be sorting itself out. Al Masri is alive, and he released a audiotape to prove it, while the status of Baghdadi remains uncertain. This is due to questions over his identity. What is known is that Operation Rat Trap, a focused, multi-day operation directed at al Qaeda, netted Muharib Abdul Latif, al Qaeda's information minister, Sabah Hilal al-Shihawi (Latif's religious advisor) and Abu Ammar al-Masri, an operative that was "facilitating insurgent activity and infrastructure support for al-Qaeda in Iraq." The Iraqi government believes Latif and Baghdadi are the same person, while Multinational Forces Iraq is unsure of his identity.
The daily raids against al Qaeda's network continue. On Friday, Task Force 145 killed 3 al Qaeda and captured 6 during raids in central Iraq. Today's raids resulted in 13 al Qaeda captured in Karma, Hit and Baghdad. On Saturday, Iraqi Special Operations Forces mixed it up with al Qaeda and captured 6 terrorists in Radwaniyah.
Al Qaeda is maintaining its suicide camapign against Iraq civilians and police alike. On Friday, police stations in the Baghdad neighborhoods of Doura and Hay al-Amel were targeted, and 5 policemen killed and 2 wounded. On Saturday, 9 police recruits were killed and 13 wounded after a suicide bomber detonated in a line outside an Iraqi Army base in Abu Ghraib. On Sunday, al Qaeda conducted a coordinated dual suicide car bomb, mortar and ground assault against a police station in Samarra. Twelve police were killed and 11 wounded. In Baghdad, a car bomb killed 35 and wounded 80 civilians after terrorists detonated it near a market in the Shia dominated district of Bayaa.
The Iraqi government and U.S. forces continue to whittle away Muqtada al Sadr's power base inside Baghdad and in southern Iraq, as well as expose Iranian complicity with Sadr's militia. On Friday, Iraqi Army troops clashed with Mahdi Army fighters in Najaf after a senior aide of Sadr refuse to stopat a checkpoint. During a raid in Sadr City, Coalition troops captured 16 "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" On Friday. On Sunday, a raid in Sadr City against the same EFP cell resulted in the discovery of a "torture room," large weapons cache and the death of up to 10 terrorists after they engaged U.S. forces. On Friday, Coalition toops found a large cache of Iranian made weapons in Mahmudiyah, including "four improvised explosive devices, components for 25 additional IEDs, seven 107mm Iranian rockets and an 81mm Iranian mortar."