Iraqi forces strike blow to al Qaeda in Iraq’s northern leadership cadre

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.

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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  • ArneFufkin says:

    Folks who have been harboring these thugs are figuring out that the new guard (i.e. democracy) in Iraq is there to stay. If nothing else in life, these folks have always survived by accurating calculating their odds, and it’s a bad bet to be aligned with AQI bozos at this time and for all foreseeable time going forward. I suspect that we’ll see a lot of the Baathist unappeasables and Salafist punks ending up in jail or on coroner slabs in short measure. When the worm turns in the conspiratorial Arab world, it turns fast and furious.

  • Alex says:

    This is great work. The ultimate goal should be instead of having a shootout where the Iraqi Army has to be called in, to instead be able for Iraqi cops to walk into a target building in any city, slap handcuffs on a high-profile suspect, and haul them off on national TV, like Enron or Bernie Madoff style.
    A lot still needs to be done to get there, but it seems more and more possible every day.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    If only al-Masri was among them. He has too much blood on his hands.

  • BullsEye says:

    The daily attack rate that Al-Qaeda had end 2006 – mid 2007 will never be seen again.
    However, their entire system now seems very self-run and self-operational; I strongly doubt Abu Omar Al Baghdadi has any real control and influence over the tactical element of the group anymore.
    The only way these guys can survive is to be out of contact executing operations along a similar strategy.
    But they have nothing to offer and within another 5 years, it’d be interesting to see who still finds Al Qaeda in Iraq relevant.
    As always, Great News from LWJ!!!

  • Lorenz Gude says:

    As I recall the surge stopped short of cleaning out Mosul and it sounds like the Iraqis are making very good headway with some degree of US help. It strikes me that it might be significant that ‘top’ Al Q leaders are getting killed because they are shooting at the Army. ‘Top’ leaders normally send others to do that. So perhaps Al Q has been reduced to something more resembling a criminal gang than an effective terrorist organization. Getting the ‘extortion personalities’ (lovely term) sounds like particularly good news. I also can’t help but think that the Iraqis have really gotten it that the country is theirs to take back and that they wont be operating on the same rules of engagement a ‘guest army’ has to impose on itself to avoid being seen as oppressive occupiers. Like Arne said above – the worm looks like it is turning quickly.
    It is reports like this that lead me to believe that the pessimists who think that Iraq will become Iranian controlled the minute the US leaves are really underestimating the determination of the Iraqis to control their own country. I think these pessimists and many who have opposed the war don’t understand the how strong a motivation it is to have lived under Saddam for 23 years who killed approximately 1 in 50 of his fellow Iraqis excluding war casualties. (450K out of 23 mil)

  • Garduneh Mehr says:

    This is wonderful news not only because of the elimination of the terrorists, but more importantly because it shows the strength and the competence of Iraqi authorities in asserting the rule of law in their country.
    I do not entirely agree with the other commenter, however. The sort of “Arab bet-hedging” that he refers to, while true, to my knowledge does not apply to the people of Iraq. Iraqi are not like the rest of the Arab world. The people who helped bring the AQI elements to justice, I am inclined to think, did this out of a sense duty and honour; not out of “bet-hedging”.
    We pray for the continued success of the Iraqi people, for the settlement of their nation in peace and for their prosperity.

  • pedestrian says:

    Mosul is now the most violent city, more than Baghdad. iCasualties report more incidents involving Iraq securtiy force and civilian casualties in Mosul. The center of gravity is shifted from Baghdad, even Baghdad remains the second most violent city in Iraq today..

  • KaneKaizer says:

    It’s amazing though, that there have been so many separate operations launched in Mosul to purge the city of the ISI and yet they cling on. There were two I think in 2008, and that “Operation New Hope” almost a year ago that was the last large offensive involving US troops.
    It still frustrates me that al-Masri hasn’t been killed or captured yet. He may not be very important anymore but it doesn’t mean he should escape justice.


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