Iraqi forces kill al Qaeda’s top military commander in the north

Iraqi security forces killed al Qaeda in Iraq’s top military commander for the north during a raid yesterday in the outskirts of Mosul.

The al Qaeda military commander, identified as Ahmad Ali Abbas Dahir al Ubayd and also known as Abu Suhaib, was killed during a raid in a region just northeast of Mosul, the US military said in a press release. Ubayd was killed after Iraqi forces, backed by US soldiers, took fire from a building where he was sheltering.

Ubayd was responsible for al Qaeda’s military operations in the northern provinces of Ninewa, Salahadin, and Kirkuk, according to Voices of Iraq.

“He was the guy in charge of operations from Tikrit all the way up to Mosul out to the Syrian border,” General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, told Fox News. “He was the military emir.”

Khalifa’s death is the latest blow to al Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership over the past three days. On Sunday, Iraqi and US forces killed Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq who was appointed by Ayman al Zawahiri, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda’s puppet Islamic State of Iraq. Both men were killed, along with an aide to al Masri and Baghdadi’s son, after the joint Iraqi-US force launched an operation in the Thar Thar region just outside of Tikrit.

Iraqi and US forces are reported to have seized a treasure trove of intelligence after killing Baghdadi and al Masri. Intelligence teams retrieved documents, laptops, cell phones, and correspondence with al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin laden, US military intelligence officials told The Long War Journal.

Intelligence gathered from the raid that killed al Masri and Baghdadi helped Iraqi and US forces hunt down Ubayd, General Odierno said.

US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that intelligence gathered in the past four months during operations against al Qaeda’s northern network helped the joint forces zero in on al Masri and Baghdad.

Since January, the US has picked apart the top leaders of al Qaeda’s northern network. Among those killed or captured are the last two overall leaders of the northern Iraq network, the last two emirs of Mosul, the top facilitator operating in the Iraq-Syria border areas, and other senior members of the network [see LWJ report, “Iraqi forces capture two senior al Qaeda leaders in Mosul,” for the list]. The killing of Ubayd adds al Qaeda in Iraq’s northern military commander to that list.

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

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12 Comments

  • Stu says:

    Wonderful news!
    Take them all down, Now! The trail will evaporate soon, but AQ has a lot of Range Rovers, explosives, and Emirs to move asap. Let’s hope our guys smoke them out and then really smoke them for good! Virgins are waiting to embrace them.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    Great news, especially the “treasure trove” of intel found with AAM and AOAB. The same thing happened when Zarqawi was taken out, and if I recall correctly some of that intel was used to help plan the surge strategy.
    They’re also running out of replacements, even though they’ll find someone eventually they probably won’t be nearly as capable as their predecessors.

  • Mr T says:

    The treasure trove. Thats what I am talking about. You can not run a large organization effectively if you do not have some documentation. That documentation can also be used against you if found. We are probably going to roll up some others in the next few days, especially if they captured someone there.
    So Osama is still alive huh? I guess capturing some docs from Osama can prove that point to us better than him pictured holding a current newspaper.
    Plus, it give us more info than what he lets us in on with an audio/videotape as he didn’t expect us to see those communications.
    Maybe it will give us some insight on where he is hiding or make him show his hand. He is probably fidgeting pretty good right now.

  • T Ruth says:

    Mr T,
    Picking up docs allegedly from OBL doesn’t prove to me he’s alive. How does one authenticate them?
    In fact it is interesting that at wikipedia, the last 3 tapes in particular, all in 2010 are noted as being not authenticated.
    My strong intuition is that they are fake and they are an attempt to keep him alive and AQ relevant. (Not to imply that AQ are irrelevant; only that
    AQ’s perceived value immediately deflates massively as soon as it is clear that he is permanently underground.)
    Here’s a dump of stuff in my antennae:
    –why was Balawi being used to target the Z-man and not OBL?
    –the content–climate change, the underwear bomber and the impending Khalid Sheikh Mohd trial are a very deliberate, almost too deliberate,
    effort by AQ machinery to appear relevant to the moment. OBL talking climate change in the middle of his war is far-fetched and unfocussed for
    the chief crusader. Sounds more like a Gadahn-level agenda.
    –somehow, the From Osama to Obama bit appears overdone and unreal from a mature, however vile, man. Sort of line that someone else would think
    about, but too playful for a man as serious as OBL to actually put into effect.
    –the Nigerian fizzling undies case was a failure; the 12/30 CIA attack was by comparison a huge success. Yet no comment on that episode which was a major strike right there in the heart of the battles and directly countered an attempt to get his right-hand-man Z???!!!
    –why no videos?
    –in the case of the Mehsuds, were/are the Pak Taliban trying to use a tried-and-tested strategy of keeping the head alive when the body was dead?
    I’d say its all too clever by half. bin Laden has been laid to rest.
    The Z-man is using his name and that makes it all the more important that he is found, whatever it takes.

  • BraddS says:

    Anyone else get the feeling that the reason these HVTs are not being “captured” is because they are being “taken care of in the field”? That way the Iraqi government can’t quietly exchange them away at a future date?

  • Andrew R. says:

    Excellent news. The best way to finish this off would be with a State of Law/Iraqiya coalition government.

  • KnightHawk says:

    Good news, seems the pressure in on in that AO, hopefully these lead to even more capture or kills of this nature.

  • Solomon2 says:

    They found him before he could escape and he couldn’t bribe his way out of it!

  • ArneFufkin says:

    It seems that the Iraqi special forces/security guys have learned well from the American/Brit/Aussie superpros over the years. When you look at these recent operations and the flawless job they did to protect voters earlier this month – they’re looking pretty good right now. The American drawdown schedule seems secure.

  • JRP says:

    Bin Laden . . . Dead or Alive? Best to assume he’s alive and inspiring terroristic acts against us. At least it keeps us on our toes. I do not see any downside to continued belief in his being alive, if he be dead. Conversely, I see plenty of downside to belief in his death, if he be alive.
    AQ Leadership’s “tradecraft”, for lack of a better word, has been superb. They’ve firewalled themselves so thoroughly from any franchise operation, such as AQ in Iraq, that captured documents, cell phones, computers, etc. are going to yield nothing. If we are not going to invade wherever it is that we think he’s hiding, then we are going to have to catch or kill him and Zawahiri as well through the use of human intelligence, something that, say, the French, or the Israelis, or the Russians, are far better at than is our own CIA. Cia is good with hi-tech, no doubt, but hi-tech is not going to work against Stone-Age tactics that, thus far, seem to have stymied us for years now.

  • T Ruth says:

    JRP, there is definitely something in what you say. AQ in addition to being an organisation, is also a phenomema and to that extent, if it can be made clear that he is dead, if that is in fact the case, i suspect it will take a lot of the wind out of the sails of a lot of”associated” movements.
    But i agree it won’t kill the heart of AQ and that must be THE goal. while Zawahiri does not have the charisma that goat had/has, he has proven himself extremely effective and is as despicable as OBL himself.
    Now catch them we must and i see your logic that if, as all say, that AQ Central is in Pakistan, then it is worth leaving him alive in order to get in there. In one sense the Obama timeline is good in that it adds to the pressure to get OBL and/or Z. With regard to intelligence, i might add India to that list who could also melt in there more easily.

  • Lorenz Gude says:

    BraddS
    I get the feeling that the Iraqis are taking care of these guys in the field but tend to see it as Iraqis adopting ‘home country’, rather then ‘guest army’ ROE – you know like the ROE the ATF used at Waco and Ruby Ridge. 😉 I agree that a collateral benefit is that there is no question of exchange. It also sends the message that the Iraqis are intent of exterminating AQI which is exactly the right one in my opinion.

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