Iraq Report: Kidnapped by Mahdi; Salahadin Salvation attacked
Yesterday's kidnapping of 5 Britons, one advisor and 4 security guards, from the Finance Ministry, is believed to have been carried out by elements of the Mahdi Army, according to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari. The raid was believed to have been carried out by Mahdi fighters who infiltrated the police and the ministry's security forces. "The number of people who were involved in the operation to seal off the building, to set roadblocks and to get into the building with such confidence must have some connections," said Mr. Zebari. The ministry is located near Sadr City, the Baghdad stronghold of Muqtada al Sadr and his Mahdi Army. Neighborhoods of Sadr City have been cordoned and at least two raids have been carried out
Coalition forces captured "five suspected terrorists and one suspected cell leader" in a raid in Sadr City today. It is unclear if this is one of the two raids directed at Mahdi Army fighters involved in the kidnapping of the 5 Brits. "The individuals detained during the raid are believed to be members of the 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," Multinational Forces Iraq reported today. This is the fourth such raid in Sadr City since Friday. Seventeen members of this network have been killed and 38 captured during numerous raids over the past three weeks.
In Salahadin province, al Qaeda murdered four family members of the leader of the Salahadin Salvation Council. "Four relatives of the head of the Salahadin Salvation Council, Sheikh Hamad al-Hasan, were killed when unidentified gunmen attacked their house in al-Hajjaj village, in southern Bayji," Voices of Iraq reported. "The gunmen killed the council head's four nephews, then set the bodies and house on fire," an anonymous source told Voices of Iraq on Monday. The council was formed less than two weeks ago to counter al Qaeda in Iraq's attempt to Talibanize the society in the province.
The U.S. military has confirmed that the attack helicopter lost in Diyala province on Monday was shot down. A military spokesman claimed the helicopter was brought down by small arms fire. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed to have shot down the helicopter. "God enabled the soldiers of the Islamic State in Iraq to down a Super Cobra aircraft ... in Diyala and kill the two Crusader pilots aboard," Al Qaeda's proxy political organization said in an internet posting. Al Qaeda in Iraq has established anti aircraft cells in an attempt to disrupt U.S. air operations, but U.S. forces has dismantled many of the cells.
In Baqubah, the local and national governments formed an "operations room" which "includes the province's government, municipal council and security services." This is much like the Joint Coordination Center in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq, where local government coordinates activities with Iraqi and Coalition security forces. Over 100 tribes are said to be participating in securing Baqubah and the surrounding regions, according to Al Sabaah. These tribes are very likely part of the Diyala Awakening.
Coalition forces captured 23 members of al Qaeda's network during raids in Baghdad, Mosul, Sadr City, and Anbar Province and Salahadin provinces. Iraqi soldiers captured 15 insurgents during 3 days of operations in central Iraq, from May 26-28. Iraqi Special Forces also captured a cell leader "accused of commanding a kidnapping and assassination cell that has been conducting extra judicial killings in the Baghdad area" on May 29. In Hit, Coalition forces detained "the district police chief, Hamid Ibrahim Jazaa, along with his brother and 14 bodyguards" for "murder, corruption and crimes against the Iraqi people."