Senior Al-Qaeda in Iraq Leader Captured; Is He Number 2?

A joint Iraqi-Coalition raid nets Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, a member of the Mujahideen Shura Council the leader of the Omar Brigade

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Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi

Iraqi and Coalition forces continue to exploit the intelligence windfall gained after the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi (a.k.a. Abu Humam, Abu Rana), who Iraqi officials are describing as the ‘number 2 al Qaeda leader in Iraq,’ has been captured in a joint Iraqi-U.S. raid. His arrest and subsequent interrogation led to “the capture or death of 11 other top al-Qaida in Iraq figures and nine lower-level members.” This operation was ‘clean,’ as al-Saaedi was captured without the loss of civilian life or damage to property. Task Force 145 is yet again operating in the background to dismantle al Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership.

The designation of al-Saeedi as the number 2 al Qaeda leader in Iraq is certain to cause a backlash of criticism in counterterrorism circles, as al-Saeedi is not a commonly known name. He is not even listed on Evan Kohlmann’s latest AQIZ leadership chart. This is complicated by the fact that Al-Qaeda does not publish their ‘organizational leadership charts’ for obvious security reasons, and the terrorist group does not operate on strict, classical Western leadership models. Al-Qaeda operatives often wear many hats and fill leadership and operational positions as needed. But al-Saeedi is certainly a major player in al Qaeda in Iraq, and his capture should not be diminished over a dispute over a number designation.

Al-Saaedi is a member of the Mujahideen Shura Council, al Qaeda’s blanket organization of extremist jihadi groups designed to legitmize their actions in Iraq. He is also the leader of the Omar Brigade, the unit dedicated to murdering Shiites in order to foment a sectarian civil war. Mohammed at Iraq The Model provides supporting evidence on his relationship to Zarqawi and the Sunni death squads. “Early reports suggested that the terrorist was operating in the Salahaddin/Samarra area but that he later moved to the Baqubah rea not far from the place where Zarqawi was killed,” said Mohammed, ” and above all he was the direct superior of criminal Haitham al-Badri who’s responsible for the Samarra bombing that destroyed the Imam al-Askari shrine.”

The rising sectarian violence threatens to destabilize Iraq and potentially plunge the country into a civil war. Most recently, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has been gunned down, further testing the patience of the Shiites who up to this point have been remarkably restrained considering the waves of violence directed at them. Sistani’s representative may have indeed been killed by rivals in Sadr’s Mahdi Army, however he also would have been a target of the Omar Brigade. The capture of al-Saeedi can go a long way in dismantling this deadly organization.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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7 Comments

  • Dave says:

    Bill, why isn’t Sadr and his Mahdi Army in handcuffs yet? I’m guessing Iraqi politics is mainly the reason, but when do we make the move? It seems to me that Sadr is more of a threat right now, then Al-Qaeda is. Bush uses the word “terrorists” but I think that is misleading. Isn’t Sadr and his army more like the mob? A small group that has no Bin laden masterplan. Basically they want to rule Iraq by intimidating the masses, paying off parts of the army and government, and using suicide bombers to keep the majority of people from living their lives and rebuilding Iraq. I’m not an expert on this, but it sure seems like we need to stop pussy footing around and take this guy out! Can you please explain to me the basic plan here? WHy have we allowed this guy to run around for 3 years and do we finally have the greenlight to fight back?

  • hamidreza says:

    Frankly, I would not be surprised if Sadr, with the help of others, somehow blows up Sistan’s compound – and the radical Shiites blaming variously the Americans or the Baathists or al-Qaeda for that.
    During the Islamic revolution in Iran 1979, the Shiite radicals blew up Ayatolla Beheshti, and then assassinated Ay. Tabatabi and neutralized Ay. Shariatmadari, all moderate Shiites and superiors of Khomeini, and who were in favor of a secular-Muslim state.
    The dangers are real. It is time for the US military to stop flirting with Shiite radicals. Nothing is to come out of this.
    IMO, the US should be loosening some of its democratic ideals in Iraq, and start empowering a secular Iraqi military and secular Iraqi intelligence service, that is more concerned about individual human rights and political security, and less about the democratic process.
    The 40 Sadrist and Fadhilla parliamentarians should be arrested, and this naturally will result in Alawi or some secular Iraqi to be chosen as Prime Minister. New elections should be set up for the replacement of the 40, but with the candidates vetted. Meanwhile the Iraqi army and intelligence service is fortified and Islamist elementswithin the security forces arrested and incarcerated.
    Democracy without individual rights is meaningless. First establish security and rights, and a secular state, at any cost.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    History has shown us that the “left”, given enough rope, is more than skillful at hanging itself.
    A central theme of COIN has always been to allow the insurgency to discredit itself.

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