Iraqi Security Forces, backed by US military advisers, dealt another blow to al Qaeda’s network in the northern city of Mosul yesterday after two senior leaders of the terror group were detained during separate operations.
Iraqi soldiers believe they captured the emir, or leader, of al Qaeda’s network in Mosul, as well as the emir of eastern Mosul. Al Qaeda assigns an overall leader for the vital city, then divides the city into eastern and western commands. US Forces Iraq has not released the name of the two suspected al Qaeda emirs, who were detained on April 6.
Al Qaeda’s emir of Mosul was arrested after Iraqi troops stopped his vehicle in the western half of the city. The emir of eastern Mosul was also detained after Iraqi soldiers stopped his vehicle, but this time in the eastern half of the city. Four “criminal associates” were also detained in the traffic stops.
The latest emir of Mosul would have served only 14 days on the job. Iraqi forces killed his predecessor, Bashar Khalaf Husyan Ali al Jaburi, on March 24 during a raid in Mosul after he pulled a gun as troops attempted to detain him.
Iraqi troops, backed by US military advisers, have heavily degraded al Qaeda in Iraq’s top leadership in Mosul over the past three weeks. Since March 18, Iraq and US troops have killed Khalid Muhammad Hasan Shallub al Juburi, al Qaeda in Iraq’s wali, or overall leader, in northern Iraq; and Abu Ahmad al Afri, al Qaeda in Iraq’s “economic security emir.” Iraqi troops have also detained three top oil extortion emirs who were responsible for providing much of the terror group’s funds for operations in the north.
Background on recent operations against al Qaeda’s leadership in Iraq’s north
In recent months, Iraqi and US forces have had success in targeting al Qaeda’s top leaders in northern Iraq. Along with Abu Na’im al Afri, the former northern emir who was killed on Jan. 5, joint forces also captured the terror group’s administrative emir, the adviser to the sharia emir, and the detainee affairs emir.
On Jan. 22, Iraqi and US forces killed Abu Khalaf, al Qaeda in Iraq’s most senior foreign fighter facilitator. Khalaf had been described as one of al Qaeda’s top leaders. Based out of Syria, Khalaf reorganized al Qaeda’s network after it was severely disrupted by Iraqi and US forces during extensive operations in 2007 and 2008.
The northern city of Mosul remains a focal point for Sunni terror groups. Nine terror groups, including Ansar al Islam and al Qaeda in Iraq, remain active in Mosul. The city’s proximity to Syria, a major conduit for foreign fighters entering Iraq, and the historic ethnic divisions between Arabs and Kurds keep Mosul a contested city.
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