The US military has identified al Qaeda’s leader of Mosul who was killed during a targeted raid in the northern city on June 24.
Multinational Forces Iraq named Abu Khalaf as al Qaeda’s emir, or leader, of Mosul who was killed during a raid by Task Force 88, the hunter-killer teams assigned to disrupt terrorist command networks in Iraq and elsewhere. Khalaf was killed by US forces as he reached for a gun and his associate attempted to detonate his vest.
Khalaf “rose through the ranks to become the overall emir of Mosul,” the US military stated. He served as al Qaeda’s military commander in Mosul during the rule of former al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
He would meet with senior al Qaeda leaders in Mosul and the Jazeera desert “coordinating and ordering dozens of attacks against Iraqi citizens, Iraqi forces and Coalition forces.”
Khalaf had close ties to foreign al Qaeda terrorists, according to his associates in custody. “Khalaf traveled much of the time with foreigners,” the US military said. Abu Khalud, his aide wearing the suicide vest at the time of his death, was a Syrian national.
The US military has decimated al Qaeda’s command network in Mosul since major operations kicked off early this year.
Al Qaeda executes attacks in Mosul, Anbar
While al Qaeda has suffered a major blow with the death of Abu Khalaf, the organization still maintains the capacity to conduct large-scale attacks. Al Qaeda pulled off two major attacks today in Mosul and the city of Karmah in eastern Anbar province.
Eighteen Iraqis were killed and 80 wounded in a car bomb attack between a market and the provincial center in central Mosul. One policeman and 17 civilians were killed in the bombing. The governor of Ninewa province was visiting nearby during the time of the attack.
In Anbar province, al Qaeda struck at a tribal meeting in the city of Karmah. Eighteen people have been reported killed and 17 wounded. Three US Marines and two senior tribal leaders were among those killed in the attack.
The meeting was between leaders of the Zuba’a tribe and the Anbar Awakening movement. The Zuba’a tribe 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.
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 Deputy Prime Ministers.
Task Force 88 killed Muhammad Sulayman Shunaythir al Zuba’i, also as known as Abu Abdullah, the leader of al Qaeda’s network in the Karmah region in November 2007. Abu Abdullah was the leader of the Zuba’a who signed on to al Qaeda in Iraq.
Anbar slated to go under Iraqi control
The attack in Karmah comes as Multinational Forces Iraq is preparing to turn over control of the province this weekend. Designating Anbar as Provincial Iraqi Control puts the Iraqi security forces in the lead of security operations. US forces would be in an “overwatch,” or supporting role to back up Iraqi forces as needed.
Anbar is the tenth of Iraq’s 18 provinces to go under Iraqi control. It was once thought Anbar would be the last to transition to Iraq control. Anbar was written off as “lost” to al Qaeda in Iraq in late 2006. But the rise of the Anbar Awakening, the groups of tribes and former insurgent groups opposed to al Qaeda’s theocratic rule, turned the tide in early 2007 and made Anbar one of Iraq’s most peaceful provinces.
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