Iranian trained leader in the Qazali network killed north of Baghdad
Multinational Forces Iraq has killed a major player in the kidnapping and murder of five American soldiers during a complex attack on the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala on January 20th. On May 19, Coalition forces killed Azhar al-Dulaimi during a raid north of Baghdad after he resisted attempts to detain him. Azhar al-Dulaimi is described as the “mastermind” and “tactical commander” of the Karbala attack, as well as other high profile terror attacks in Iraq.
Azhar al-Dulaimi was a leader in the Qazali network, which General David Petraeus noted was behind the planning, organization and execution of the Karbala attack. The raid was well planned and executed, as the attackers looked American and spoke English, had American equipment and the assault on the Provincial Joint Coordination Center. One soldier was killed and three wounded during the initial attack, and four soldiers were taken hostage. They were executed shortly afterward after Iraqi police and Coalition forces tracked their movement eastward towards Iran.
Azhar al-Dulaimi’s fingerprints were found on the SUV where the four soldiers were found handcuffed and murdered. The discovery of a torture room and weapons cache in Baghdad on May 6 in Sadr City led to information leading to Azhar’s location. Ten Mahdi Army fighters were killed during the raid.
The Qazali network receives arms, training, funding and other assistance from Iran’s Qods Force, which reports directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader. “[The Qazali network] were provided substantial funding, training on Iranian soil, advanced explosive munitions and technologies as well as run of the mill arms and ammunition, in some cases advice and in some cases even a degree of direction” from Qods Force, General Petraeus stated last April. Several senior leaders of the Qazali network have been captured over the past several months.
Azhar al-Dulaimi is also believed to involved in the kidnapping of U.S. Army Specialist Ahmed Altaie, who was kidnapped in Baghdad on October 23 after visiting family, as well as other kidnappings, including 70 workers from the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education in Baghdad. He is believed to be funneling terrorists into Iran for training, as well as transporting weapons and the deadly armor piercing explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) from Iran into Iraq. “Intelligence reports indicate Dulaimi received military training from Iranian intelligent agents and from Lebanese Hezbollah, to include training on how to conduct terrorist-style kidnapping,” according to the Department of Defense.
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