Al Qaeda attacks the Awakening; Senior al Qaeda leaders killed, captured

A member of the Awakening mans a checkpoint in Hawr Rajab just two days prior to al Qaeda attack. Getty photo via IraqSlogger. Click for more images.

Al Qaeda in Iraq may be down, but it is not out. While al Qaeda has suffered a major setback after US and Iraqi forces launched multiple offensives throughout Iraq, the terror group still retains some capacity to conduct attacks. Today, al Qaeda attacked the Awakening movement two villages north and south of Baghdad. The battles resulted in scores killed on both sides, including 10 al Qaeda fighters. Meanwhile, Iraqi and Coalition forces have killed or captured several senior al Qaeda leaders over the past week.

“Gunmen dressed in Iraqi army uniforms launched an attack on Hawr Rajab, a Sunni village south of Baghdad, killing three soldiers and wounding three,” the Associated Press reported. “They then commandeered a military vehicle and charged into the village where they assaulted the headquarters of the Hawr Rajab Awakening Council, a local anti-Qaeda front, killing 10 of its members and wounding four.”

The Hawr Rajab Awakening teamed up with the Iraqi Army and repelled the attack. Upwards of 18 civilians were killed in the fighting. “Dozens of men wearing Iraqi army uniforms entered the area and opened fire randomly at people,” an Awakening member told the Associated Press. “The Iraqi army intervened and along with Awakening members fought back. There were fierce clashes … which are still ongoing.”

The day prior to the attack in Hawr Rajab , al Qaeda in Iraq distributed pamphlets ordering the Sunnis to reject the Coalition efforts to restore security and rejoin the insurgency. “There will be many battles between us,” a pamphlet in the town stated. “We will bomb each and every house in the village and chop the heads of people unless they return” to the anti-American insurgency.”

A map of al Qaeda’s proposed Sunni Islamic State, from an al Qaeda video.

Al Qaeda in Iraq also struck at the village of Al Kulaiyah in Diyala province. “Villagers from Shiite Al-Ambagiyah tribe defended themselves and in the ensuing clashes nine people were killed,” AFP reported. “Seven fighters from Al-Qaeda and two from the Ambagiyah tribe were killed in the gun battle that lasted an hour,” said police Lieutenant Colonel Ibrahim Abdullah.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has continuously targeted the Awakening movements which have sprung up in Anbar, Diyala, Baghdad, Babil, Ninewa, Salahadin, and Tamin provinces. The Awakening has fought al Qaeda’s attempts to impose its Islamic State in Iraq. These movements have organized local and provincial security forces, and have encouraged members of the tribes to join the Army and local and national police forces.

The Anbar Awakening fought a vicious war against al Qaeda from the summer of 2006 up until the spring of 2007, until it prevailed. Anbar has now become one of the more secure provinces in Iraq. The Awakening movements in Diyala, Baghdad, Babil, Ninewa, Salahadin, and Tamin provinces are still in the formative stages and al Qaeda is attempting to destroy them.

As al Qaeda attempts to bring down the Awakening movements, US and Iraqi Security forces continue to target al Qaeda’s leadership network nationwide. Over the past week, US and Iraqi forces killed or captured three senior leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq’s network.

The most senior leader captured this week was Saadi Ibrahim, the oil minister in al Qaeda in Iraq’s Islamic State. Iraq police captured Ibrahim and “found several plans for attacking Iraqi oil pipelines and fields in his possession.” Ibrahim is the second senior Islamic State of Iraq leader captured over the past five months. In July, US forces captured Khalid Abdul Fatah Da’ud Mahmud Al Mashadani, also known as Abu Shaeed, the media emir for the Islamic State of Iraq.

US forces killed “a senior leader in Mosul’s terrorist security network” on November 19. “The wanted individual planned attacks against Iraqi Security and Coalition forces, which included multiple suicide car-bombing attacks,” Multinational Forces Iraq stated. “Reports also indicate he purchased weapons and explosives for the terrorist network.”

Iraqi police have made two other high profile arrests over the past week. On November 21, Iraqi police captured Ehab Al Namrawi, “a top leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq” in Anbar province. Namrawi, who infiltrated the police, has been directly linked to 23 murders. Since his arrest he has “volunteered the names of 12 of his associates.”

On November 22, Iraqi police captured Hussein al Ajeeli, a senior al Qaeda leader in Tikrit. “Ajeeli is accused of plotting a suicide attack against a police building in Tikrit two months ago which killed 17 policemen,” AFP reported. “Ajeeli is also suspected of kidnapping and killing three other policemen in Al-Dour town near Tikrit.”

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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6 Comments

  • Turner says:

    “We will bomb each and every house in the village and chop the heads of people unless they return” Sounds like something Saddam would have said. We should pray for the awakening councils at this time.
    Very good news that they’ve broken into the network of people bombing the oil facilities. This was the next accomplishment the Iraqi people needed. Hopefully, we’ll read about more being rolled-up in this area. If we do, we can count on Bill to keep us informed.

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the – Web Reconnaissance for 11/23/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…

  • Turner says:

    It’s interesting that they had to commandeer a vehicle on site to execute their plan. Either security’s too tight for them to drive their own vehicle in or they’re resources are too sparse to be able to supply their own attack plans. Either scenario is good news for the free Iraqis.

  • Rhyno327/lrsd says:

    these “Awakening” leaders must be on a constant state of readiness, coz you know they are coming. The US should come to thier aid ASAP. There must be a QRF that could respond to situations like this. Bill, DJ, is the US state of readiness wat it should be, considering the situation?

  • starling says:

    it is interesting and quite telling that the oil minister of AQIZ had the job of destroying oil pipelines and infrastructure. not building it. This speak to the oft-made point of al Qaeda beign nihilists, intent on and possibly only capable of destroying.

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