Iraqi security forces captured al Qaeda in Iraq’s security minister and the terror group’s military commander for the capital during separate raids in Ramadi and Baghdad over the past two weeks.
Ten days ago, counterterrorism security forces captured Hazem Abdul Razzaq Al Zawi, “the so-called Interior Minister for the Islamic State of Iraq,” during a raid in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and a former stronghold of al Qaeda in Iraq. Zawi is a cousin of Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the former leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, the political front group for al Qaeda, who was killed during a raid by Iraq and US forces in March. Baghdadi was killed along with Abu Ayyub al Masri, the Egyptian who led al Qaeda in Iraq and served as the war minister for the Islamic State of Iraq.
Zawi disclosed the real names of the top leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq, security officials told Alsumaria News. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi al Hussieni al Qurshi, the emir or leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, has been identified as Dr. Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Samarrai, and is also known as Abu Duaa’. Nasser al Din Allah Abu Suleiman, the Islamic State of Iraq’s war minister, has been identified as Neaman Salman Mansour al Zaidi.
Both Abu Bakr and Suleiman had reportedly been recruited by al Qaeda in Iraq while in custody at the Camp Bucca Detention Facility in the southern province of Basrah.
In the other recent raid, Iraqi security forces captured Abu Hussain, al Qaeda’s military commander in Baghdad, while targeting the cell that carried out a deadly terror assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in the capital last month. More than 50 Iraqi Christians were killed in the assault.
“Security forces arrested the 12-man terrorist group, among them the new military commander of al Qaeda Organization in Baghdad,” Major General Ahmed Abu Rugheaf, a police commander, told the Iraqi press.
“The group members confessed to involvement in and responsibility for the attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church,” Rugheaf continued. “They also confessed to their participation in a large number of terrorist operations, including attacks on gold jewelry stores, the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), al Arabiya channel and the recent blasts in Baghdad, as well as to home-making of explosive charges and belts,” he added.
Abu Hussain is said to be a dentist from Basrah, and also had been detained at the Bucca detention facility. He replaced Manaf Abdulrehim al Rawi, who was captured by Iraqi troops in March. The interrogation of Rawi as well as a series of operations against al Qaeda’s network in Mosul in late 2009 and early 2010 led to the deaths of al Masri and Baghdadi.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has suffered significant blows to its leadership at the hands of the Iraqi security forces this year [see LWJ report, Al Qaeda in Iraq is ‘broken,’ cut off from leaders in Pakistan, says top US general, for a list of senior leaders killed and captured]. But while unable to hold territory, the terror group has been able to reorganize and launch high-profile terror attacks against the Iraqi security forces and government institutions. The attacks have been less frequent over the past two years, however, and have failed to threaten the Iraqi state.