Senior al Qaeda leader killed in November raid

Map of Iraq. Click to view.

Multinational Forces Iraq has confirmed it killed a senior al Qaeda in Iraq commander during a raid near Samarra on November 8. The remains of Abu Abdullah, also known as Muhammad Sulayman Shunaythir al Zuba’i, have been positively identified by Multinational Forces Iraq.

Just prior to his death, Abu Abdullah was “high-level al-Qaeda in Iraq leader for a network operating in the Salahadin province. Reports indicate Abdullah was an experienced bomb-maker and attack planner who coordinated numerous attacks on Coalition and Iraqi forces over the past three years, using a variety of improvised explosive devices combined with small-arms fire.” Abu Abdullah was also complicit in “kidnapping, extortion and murder” and “led a group of foreign terrorists, whom he used to conduct his car-bombing campaigns.”

The Samarra-Tarmiyah region was believed to be a command and control node for al Qaeda in Iraq’s central leadership at the time of Abu Abdullah’s death. Multiple media cells and senior al Qaeda in Iraq leaders have been killed or captured in the region.

Before taking over operations in Salahadin, Abu Abdullah was a close associate of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the deceased leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. Abu Abdullah “historical ties to the Battle of Fallujah in 2004” and was “a regional Emir controlling [al Qaeda in Iraq] terrorists in an area between west Baghdad and east of Fallujah.” The region between west Baghdad and Fallujah contains the city of Karma, once one of the most violent regions of Iraq, as well as Abu Ghraib.

This region is also the home to the Zuba’a tribe, which was one of the “sinister six” tribes in Anbar province that signed on to support al Qaeda in Iraq and its puppet Islamic State of Iraq. A senior American military intelligence official informs The Long War Journal that Abu Abdullah was the leader of the Zuba’a who signed on to al Qaeda in Iraq.

The Zuba’a tribe fought an internal civil war over the decision to join al Qaeda in Iraq. The pro-American wing won out after a brutal campaign that included numerous clashes and the near assassination of Salam al-Zuba’i, one of Iraq’s two Deputy Prime Ministers.

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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