Iraq executes Zarqawi aide

Reuters reported today that Abu Talha, a senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader who had served as a key commander for Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was among 14 terrorists and criminals who were executed on Tuesday:

“The Justice Ministry executed 14 Iraqis – terrorists and criminals – in Baghdad on Tuesday,” a senior Justice Ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.

They included Abu Talha who headed an al Qaeda affiliate, Islamic State of Iraq, in the northern city of Mosul and the provinces of Anbar and Salahuddin, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Abu Talha’s real name was Muhammad Khalaf Shakar. In addition to being a senior member of al Qaeda in Iraq, he also was a commander in Ansar al Islam. Before he was captured by US special operations forces in June 2005, he was considered to be a potential successor to Zarqawi.

At the time of Abu Talha’s arrest, CENTCOM said that he had “never stayed more than one night at any one residence, and always wore a suicide vest, saying he would never surrender.”

Iraq seems intent on killing off those top leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq who are currently in custody. Today, Aswat al Iraq reported that an unnamed Saudi al Qaeda operative “with the initials BA” has been sentenced to death:

A leading al-Qaeda Commander, of Saudi nationality and holding the post of Military Emir (Prince) of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq’s city of Mosul, has been sentenced to death by the Central Iraqi Criminal Court, according to a statement from within the High Judicial Council on Wednesday.

“The defendant, with the initials BA, who had occupied the post of the Military Emir (Prince) of the Right Side of Mosul in 2008, during the leadership of the former al-Qaeda Commander Abu-Musaab al-Zarqawi, was sentenced for execution by the High Judcial Criminal Court,” the statement, as was received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency, stressed.

The statement pointed out that the defendant had confessed to having contributed to the Falluja battle in west Iraq, during which he lost one of his legs and was sentenced for 15 years imprisonment; at the time he gave a false name, claiming to be an Iraqi and confessed to having carried out terrorist acts, aimed at deteriorating the security situation in the country.

Although the initials do not match, it is possible that the al Qaeda leader to be executed is Ibrahim Ahmad Umar Nasir al Sabawi, who was identified as al Qaeda’s emir of eastern Mosul when he was captured by the US military in 2008. Sabawi’s nationality was not given, however. Another Saudi, Abu Yasir al Saudi, served as al Qaeda’s emir for southeastern Mosul before he was killed in an airstrike by US forces in 2008.

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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  • mike merlo says:

    Great news. Come 2014 once all of Afghanistan is handed over to them we can look forward to the Afghans gettin after the ‘Taliban’ & all the foreign jihadist giving them grief in the same manner their being dealt with in Iraq. Plus our SpcOps people will have a much freer hand in meting out ‘justice.’

  • Paul D says:

    Saudis are a common terrorist up with Pakis,Egyptians,Libyans,Yemen,Algerians and Somalians!
    Must be something the Sunnis are taught from a young age!

  • Nic says:

    @Bill: This story begs for a number of related stories: 1. How many terrorists has Iraq captured, how many have been convicted, how many have escaped and, best of all, how many have been executed. What is the Arab response to these executions? How popular of a place is Iraq as a destination for terrorists now that Arabs are executing Arab terrorists? Are there any non-Arab terrorists in Iraq? 2. How is the GITMO Alumni Club doing? Is the Iraqi Catch and Execute program more or less effective at stopping terrorism than the United States’ Catch and Release program?

  • Devin Leonard says:

    My heart breaks:)

  • The sheer pace of executions (at or near 2 per day) in Iraq since our withdrawal is big cause for concern, but Talha was one of the most dangerous terrorists of the entire war. No tears shed here.

  • mike says:

    @ mike merlo,
    I think you make a great point. I think that in a nasty and violent region the brutal local solutions may work best at taking out the worst of the worst. I wonder if the restrictive ROE and “human rights” concerns of the western coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan have made the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaida too difficult for us. In Iraq for example, the British had a hard time crushing Iranian backed militas. Maliki sent in the Iraqi army who did some questionable things like driving around in Hummers with Mahdi army dead piled on the hood, however, since then Basra seem a lot more stable.

  • Mr T says:

    I am not a fan of capital punishment but that may be the best way to defeat the scourge of terrorism.
    Jihadis kill and maim untold numbers of innocent civilians including many muslims, yet they are captured and later released to rejoin and kill again. It becomes almost a game where they play war and kill people , then surrender when they going gets tough because they know they will be heroes in prison and then later released as heroes in their communities.
    If they found that execution would be a real possibility, some may rethink their decision to join in and those that rejoin the fight will never be able to do so. They also can’t be used as a rallying cry or used in hostage negotiations and prisoner swaps.
    Some will say if we do it the enemy will do it and we don’t want that. I think we all realize they don’t follow any rules other than the ones they make up based on tehir interpretation of the Koran. They kill, execute, torture, maim, and subject their prisoners to very inhumane conditions on a regular basis. Does the Red Crescent ever get to check on Taliban prisoner conditions? Exactly. They use our humanity against us and we need to fight back with all the tools we have.

  • Knighthawk says:

    Good riddance to this gaggle of scum.


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