Iraqi troops, backed by US advisers, have struck a blow to al Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership in the north during targeted raids in March.
This past month, three top al Qaeda leaders have been killed and three more have been captured during multiple raids in Mosul and northern Iraq. Among those killed were the top leader and the “economic security emir” of al Qaeda’s network in northern Iraq, and al Qaeda’s top leader in Mosul, US Forces Iraq said in a press release.
Iraqi troops from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, killed Khalid Muhammad Hasan Shallub al Juburi, al Qaeda in Iraq’s overall leader in northern Iraq, during a raid on March 18. Juburi, who is also known as Shaykh Khalid, was shot and killed after shooting at the joint Iraqi and US security force.
Juburi played “an integral role in approving AQI [al Qaeda in Iraq] operations and attacks,” as well as approved and distributed funds for terror groups operating in the north. Juburi took over al Qaeda in Iraq’s northern operations after his predecessor, Abu Na’im al Afri, was killed in a raid in Mosul on Jan. 5.
Five days later, Iraqi forces from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, killed Abu Ahmad al Afri, al Qaeda in Iraq’s “economic security emir” after he shot at the security team. As the economic security emir, Afri, who is also known as Abu Marwa, was responsible for “receiving and accounting for all money collected by subordinate units of the terrorist group in northern Iraq.”
The next day, Iraqi troops from the 9th Division killed Bashar Khalaf Husyan Ali al Jaburi, al Qaeda’s top leader in the northern city of Mosul. Jaburi, who is also known as Dhafir and Abu Huda, “was heavily involved in coordinating and approving attacks and assassinations, many of which were related to AQI’s extortion operations.”
Also, an March 24, Iraqi troops captured the three top “extortion personalities” in northern Iraq. Iraqi troops detained the oil minister for al Qaeda in Iraq, the group’s deputy oil minister, and the oil extortion leader for Mosul. “In addition to managing the extortion of oil companies and small businesses throughout northern Iraq, these three individuals are believed to have maintained close associations with the top leaders of AQI and their couriers,” US Forces Iraq stated. The captured oil emir is said to have served as al Qaeda’s top leader in the town of Haditha as well as the overall commander for Anbar province, the al Qaeda former stronghold in the west.
US Forces Iraq believes that the deaths of Juburi, Afri, and Jaburi, along with the capture of the top three extortion emirs, “will likely greatly disrupt AQI operations and prevent future attacks throughout Iraq” because the terror group receives “the bulk” of its funding through its extortion operations.
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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