As Coalition and Iraqi security forces work to dismantle al Qaeda in Iraq’s network nationwide, al Qaeda is attempting to re-establish operations in its former stronghold in Baghdad as well as in the northern city of Mosul. Al Qaeda’s ability to conduct large-scale, coordinated attacks has diminished since the fall of 2007 as the security situation improved. But as yesterday’s suicide attacks in Baqubah, Mosul, Ramadi, and Baghdad show, al Qaeda still maintains some capacity to coordinate operations and target civilians.
US and Iraqi security forces have killed or captured 53 senior members of al Qaeda in Iraq’s network over the past month, Major General Kevin Bergner, the spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq said during an operations briefing on April 15 in Baghdad. Bergner singled out the 10 senior-most al Qaeda leaders. US and Iraqi forces have killed or captured five emirs, or leaders, three cell leaders, and two facilitators – operatives in charge of moving men, weapons, explosives, and money to allow al Qaeda to continue operations. Nine of the ten senior operatives have been captured, which allows the Coalition and Iraqi forces to interrogate for information to paint a better picture of al Qaeda’s network.
Of these senior al Qaeda operatives killed or captured, three were responsible for operations in Mosul, and four in Baghdad. Joint forces killed or captured the leader of Mosul, his deputy, and, the leader of the eastern half of the city. In Baghdad, security forces killed or captured two leaders and two facilitators.
Senior Al Qaeda in Iraq operatives killed or captured in Mosul and the North:
• Abd-al-Rahman Ibrahim Jasim Tha’ir: Al Qaeda in Iraq’s Military Emir in Mosul. He was responsible for the planning and execution of operations in the city. He was the former Military Emir of Bayji. Tha’ir was captured on March 2nd.
• Ahmad Husayn Ghanim ‘Ali: Al Qaeda in Iraq’s Security Emir for East Mosul. [Captured]
• Abu Mansur: Al Qaeda’s Deputy Emir for Mosul who also served as a judge for al Qaeda’s sharia courts in the city. “His job was to try to cloak their corrupt ideology with religious sanction,” Bergner said. [Killed]
• Muhammad Fathi Hammad Husayn: An al Qaeda cell leader in Sharqat. [Captured]
Senior Al Qaeda in Iraq operatives killed or captured in Baghdad and the Center
• Mahmud ‘Abd-al-Hamid ‘Isa ‘Aaywi: Al Qaeda’s Military Emir for South Karkh. “His operations focused on trying to use car and truck bombs in East and West Rashid, Karrada and Mansour,” Bergner said. [Captured]
• Jasim Najm Khalaf Muhammad: A leader in al Qaeda’s network in Khark. Muhammad was attempting to rebuild al Qaeda’s network in the Baghdad Belts. [Captured]
• Ali Mustashar ‘Ali: An Al Qaeda in Iraq facilitator for car bombs in Baghdad. [Captured]
• Hamid ‘Awayd Muhammad: An Al Qaeda in Iraq facilitator for truck and car bombs in Baghdad. Muhammad was al Qaeda Emir for Anbar province prior to moving operations in Baghdad. [Captured]
• Tu’mah Khalaf Mutar Hassan: An al Qaeda cell leader in Samarra. [Captured]
• Muqdad Ibrahim ‘Abbas Husayn: The Military Emir for Jalam. Husayn coordinated operations with leaders in Tikrit, Samarra, and Mosul. He also facilitated meetings with al Qaeda’s leadership. [Captured]
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.