Coalition and Iraqi forces arrest Abu Ayman, the commander of the Secret Islamic Army
The Iraqi Security Forces arrested Muhammed Hila Hammad Ubaydi, aka Abu Ayman, the leader of the Secret Islamic Army, on March 7. His arrest was announced today. According to the Multinational Forces-Iraq press release, “Ayman’s capture was the result of a determined manhunt conducted by Iraqi intelligence professionals and several intelligence agencies within the Coalition.” Ayman is described as follows (note his ties to Saddam’s regime and al Qaeda in Iraq):
Abu Ayman, the former aide to the Chief of Staff of Intelligence during the Saddam Hussein regime, was the leader of the Secret Islamic Army in the Northern Babil Province. Abu Ayman has strong ties to terror leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, still considered the head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Abu Ayman is the prime suspect in the kidnapping of Italian journalist Guiliana Sgrena and for assassination attempts on Iraqi Government and Iraqi Security Forces officials. Abu Ayman is also the prime suspect in the kidnapping and killing of several hostages in Iraq and for committing some of the most lethal IED attacks on Coalition and Iraqi Forces and on Iraqi citizens since the fall of the regime.
In the arrest warrant issued in October of 2005, Ayman’s insurgent group was described as operating in the regions of Baghdad, Salman Pak, and Mahmudiyah. These are three of the most dangerous areas in Iraq, riddled with a deeply rooted Sunni-led insurgency.
The Multinational Forces-Iraq press release also highlights how Qataba’s capture provided intelligence on the operations of the Secret Islamic Army, and eventually led to Abu Ayman’s capture. The announcement of Ayman’s capture was delayed for one month in order to exploit intelligence likely gained during interrogation. His capture was facilitated by the arrest and interrogation of Abu Qatada, who is described as “a Syrian born terrorist who was wanted for multiple IED attacks, the assassinations of two Iraqi government council members, and the murders of several truck drivers.”
The roll-up of the Secret Islamic Army network mirrors the destruction of the al-Ahwal Brigade last summer in the city of Hit. The capture of a key member of an insurgent network can go far in dismantling a terrorist group.
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