Targeting al Qaeda in Iraq’s network, April-May 2008

The 10 senior-most al Qaeda in Iraq leaders killed or captured in April and May. Image from Multinational Forces Iraq. Click to view full size.

US and Iraqi security forces continue to pursue al Qaeda in Iraq’s networks as the terror group works to re-establish footholds in Baghdad, Mosul, and northern Diyala province. During the month of May, US and Iraqi security forces have killed or captured 50 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 today in Baghdad.

Bergner singled out the 10 senior-most al Qaeda leaders. Of the 10 senior al Qaeda leaders identified, US and Iraqi forces have captured four emirs, or leaders, two cell leader, and four facilitators and bomb makers. The capture of these 10 leaders will allow the Coalition and Iraqi forces to conduct interrogation and strike further at al Qaeda in Iraq’s network.

Al Qaeda in Iraq’s areas of influence, dated March 2008. Map from Multinational Forces Iraq. Click to view.

Mosul remains an al Qaeda hotspot. Three of the leaders captured were responsible for operations in Mosul, and one was responsible for operations in Bayji. In April, US and Iraqi forces killed or captured five senior al Qaeda leaders in Mosul, where al Qaeda is attempting to reestablish its network and disrupt Iraqi and Coalition efforts to secure the city. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s last major ratline into Syria spans westward from Mosul into Tal Afar and the crossing point at Sinjar.

Senior Al Qaeda in Iraq operatives killed or captured in Mosul, Baghdad, Salahadin Province:


• Ibrahim Ahmad Umar Nasir al Sabawi: Al Qaeda’s emir of eastern Mosul. Sabawi facilitated the movement of foreign al Qaeda operatives into Mosul and worked closely with Abu Yasir al Saudi, also know as Jar Allah, one of two Saudi al Qaeda leaders killed in a US airstrike in Mosul in February.

• Ayyad Jasim Muhammad Ali: Al Qaeda’s emir for northeastern Mosul.

• Adnan Muhammad: An al Qaeda cell leader in Mosul.

• Nawaf Ali Muhammad Sultan: An al Qaeda suicide car bomb cell leader in Mosul.

• Husam Asim Sayid Mahmud: An al Qaeda suicide car bomb facilitator for Mosul.


• Abbas Abd Ahmad Hamad: An al Qaeda car bomb maker for the South Karkh network.

• Riyad Abbas Husayn: Al Qaeda’s sharia emir, or religious leader in charge of enforcing al Qaeda’s Taliban-like religious rule, in South Karkh.

• Sa’ad Abdullah Salih: An al Qaeda bomb maker who facilitated the movement of foreign al Qaeda operatives into Baghdad.

Salahadin Province:

• Yusif Dhalaf Abd Fayyad: Al Qaeda’s security emir in Bayji.

• Najah Husayn Ali Ismail: An Al Qaeda weapons facilitator in Tikrit.

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



  • AQI Losses says:

    Keeping the pressure on AQI is the the untold story of recent weeks. Most of the focus has been on the operations against the Shia militias and deservingly so.
    Coalition and Iraqi forces can conduct and focus on operations on two “fronts”, simultaneously. Some thought the increased attention on the Shia militia would hamper efforts against AQI. No so, especially when you factor in that al-Masri announced a month long offensive back on April 19th and little has come from it.

  • AQI Losses says:

    A more detailed story on ISI leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, than the one on the side bar:
    “The true identity of the leader of one of Iraq’s biggest insurgent groups has been revealed by the Iraqi police chief of the city of Haditha in an interview with Al Arabiya news station. Col. Fareq al Je’eify said Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, was a former Iraqi army officer and his real name was Hamed Dawood al Zawy. He also showed the station pictures of al Zawy, whose group, the Islamic State in Iraq, includes al Qaeda in Iraq.”

  • mjr007 says:

    Good news Bill. Thanks for the update on the goings-on in the north of Iraq. Keeping the pressure on AQI in the Mosul region as well as Al-Sadr in Baghdad and the south.
    Good stuff.

  • doug says:

    that’s a pretty scruffy looking bunch…hard to believe that they could ever win even a little war against us. Of course they could definitely create chaos with ieds and suicide bombers.

  • Daryl says:

    Don’t understimate the power of those IED’s, car bombs and targeted assassinations. The fact is these guys are waging a highly effective asymmetric war and they are by no means dumb. We are only winning over there because we have the Kurds, Sunni’s and Al-Sistani/Hakim Shias working with us – for now anyway. If we can build on these relationships and keep them from fighting each other, we can withdraw at least half of our troops out of country and move the rest into more secure bases where they are less exposed to IED attack. That’s what victory will look like.

  • Contra1 says:

    I’m going to disagree with Daryl on a point. We are succeeding in our mission due the surge. The surge put our military forces front and center to gain the trust and respect of the Iraqi populace, IA, IP, etc. Our people have lead by example in the hunt for terrorists and the establishment of the security forces. We know what a functioning civil system looks like and we have provided that knowledge and assistance to the Iraqis. Pulling back to fortified positons may not be in our best interests. Certainly as the IA and IP take on more operational control of given areas we will be able to draw down to some degree but we will need to remain front and center until a monopoly on violence has been established, and that day does appear to be close at hand. IMHO, that wiil be victory.

  • Alex says:

    Looks like some more work needs to be done in Mosul. But, it’s progress.

  • BobbyD says:

    I agree with Contra. After all the best American diplomat is the American Soldier. The Iraqi people have seen the truth through the Soldiers actions of sacrifice and not through the media and anti war folks. The only reason we are here today is because of the Surge.

  • Daryl says:

    Good points guys. I don’t disagree at all. Our soldiers deserve credit for their great work over there. I definitely support them being front and center for as long as necessary, but only as long as necessary. As long as the terrorists have the ability to kill a bunch of our guys every month, we are going to have political problems maintaining support for the effort at home. This requires the Iraqis to maintain security mostly on their own. It also requires a stable political structure so that we don’t end up in the middle of a real shooting war between Sunni, Shiite and Kurd. A long way to go.

  • BobbyD says:

    Agreed Daryl. Alot of outside interference is coming from fear. The outside players know that if the IA was left to develop unchallenged it would quickly become the powerhouse military in the region and closely allied with us. I am not sure if we are at the point where nothing will will stop that from being a reality, but my take from the Basra and Sadr City operations is that they are finally on that path.

  • Matthew says:

    I am glad to see that “a second front” exists against al Qaeda. Looks like the action is “only” meant to keep al Qaeda off-balance until a time comes to direct more troops into the action.
    Once the barrier to protect the International zone is complete, then more of Sadr City can be taken from the Mahdi Army. After Sadr City, then the effort probably focus on flushing al Qaeda from Mosul and any other places.
    It’s going to be a long summer.

  • C. Jordan says:

    Its great to see that we continue to clean up.
    How does al Qaeda refresh their troops? It seems like every time we snag some there are others to fill in.
    However it has to be getting harder and harder for them to move around. How are AQ getting people into Iraq? Smuggled In, or homegrown? Perhaps Iran is helping more then we think, hence the AQ-JAM link theory?

  • Jeff says:

    I find it hard to believe that the effort in the north is just to keep them off-balance and that the Sadr City is the only place we are front and center. the report on grabbing key leaders shows that their organization is crumbling. With more arrests – more will be arrested.
    With the strengthening of the IA there is real progress everywhere. Militias have to be taken out and the fact this is happening now is a very positive sign. I can’t think that this would have been possible a year ago without civil war and total anarchy in Baghdad.
    Even with the IEDs and suicide bombings, our casualties are way down even though we are in harms way more than ever. The spike in April is still not what it was even with operations taking place in serious hotspots.

  • C. Jordan says:

    Thank you Richard1,
    “In the interview in Kuwaiti Al-Qabas daily, al-Bathali said that Tehran is supplying al-Qaida fighters and other Jihad movements in Iraq with “weapons and money” and claimed he has personally sent fighters to Iraq by way of Syria.”
    How heavily can we lend credit to these statements?
    Has Al-qaida been caught red handed with Iran?

  • Marlin says:

    I certainly hope this is true.

    The Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman says the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq has been arrested in the northern city of Mosul.
    Spokesman Mohammed al-Askari says the arrest of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, was confirmed to him by the Iraqi commander of the province.
    There was no immediate confirmation from U.S. forces on the arrest.

    Associated Press: Iraqi army: Iraqi al-Qaida leader held

  • Contra1 says:

    ” … the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq has been arrested in the northern city of Mosul …”
    Nothing to see hear move along … makes me wonder if the IA could have delayed a bit before releasing the capture info … who knows maybe they have been monitoring him for a while and this was the opportunity to do the takedown … whomever he’s had contact with recently has got to be sweating … however this shakes out several Huzzahs for the home team


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