Iraqi troops, backed by US advisers, captured a senior leader in a Mahdi Army offshoot group with links to Iran during a raid in Baghdad.
The senior leader of the Promise Day Brigade was detained in northern Baghdad, with the help of intelligence gathered from both US and Iraq security forces.
The Promise Day Brigade commander, who was not identified, was “believed to be facilitating the distribution of weapons and funding to PDB [Promise Day Brigade] attack groups throughout Baghdad,” the US military said in a press release. “Attack groups then use the weapons and funding to conduct deadly acts of violence against civilians and security forces in Iraq.”
The US military said the commander “is allegedly tied to PDB [Promise Day Brigade] leaders operating from safe havens in Iran.”
The Promise Day Brigade was formed by anti-American Shia leader Muqtada al Sadr during the summer of 2008 after he announced he would disband the Mahdi Army and formed a small, secretive military arm to fight Coalition forces in June. The group has not been linked to any major attacks since its formation last summer.
The Iraqi military has stepped up operations against the Promise Day Brigade and the Mahdi Army since the beginning of November, when two members of the PDB were captured in Baghdad on Nov. 6. Starting with that capture, 18 members of the Promise Day Brigade and the Mahdi Army, including two commanders, have been arrested in Baghdad and Amarah [see list below].
The biggest catch took place on Nov. 29, when Iraqi forces captured the leader of the Promise Day Brigade in Amarah. That same day, Iraqi officials announced they were seeking to capture a senior member of the Qods Force, the special operations branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Iran has backed a host of Shia terror groups in Iraq, including the Mahdi Army and the Promise Day Brigade, the Asaib al Haq, and the Hezbollah Brigades [see LWJ report, “Iraqi forces search for Qods Force agents” and “Ramazan Corps and the ratlines into Iraq” for more details on Iran’s involvement in Iraq].
List of Promise Day Brigade and Mahdi Army operatives detained since November:
Dec. 9, 2009: Iraqi security forces detained a senior Promise Day Brigade leader in in Baghdad.
Dec. 7, 2009: Iraqi security forces detained two Promise Day Brigade members in Baghdad.
Dec. 6, 2009: Iraqi security forces detained a Mahdi Army commander and three fighters in Baghdad.
Dec. 4, 2009: Iraqi security forces detained three Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad.
Nov. 29, 2009: Iraqi security forces detained the leader of the Promise Day Brigade in Amarah.
Nov. 27, 2009: Iraqi security forces detained three Promise Day Brigade fighters were captured in Baghdad.
Nov. 13, 2009: Iraqi security forces detained a Mahdi Army member in Baghdad.
Nov. 7, 2009: Iraqi security forces detained three members of the Promise Day Brigade in Baghdad.
Nov. 6, 2009: Iraqi security forces detained two members of the Promise Day Brigade in Baghdad.
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