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Iraq Report: Modifying the wall, Senior al Qaeda leader killed

The violence inside Baghdad was unusually low today, with no major attacks inside the city. The pressing issue inside Baghdad continues to be the building of Adhamiya security barrier, and the upcoming modifications. The largest suicide attack occurred in Diyala province outside a police station, while Coalition forces have confirmed killing a senior al Qaeda military commander for Anbar province.

The politically sensitive issue of the Adhamiya security barrier, which includes 15 foot high concrete barriers (also know as Texas barriers), appears to be working towards a resolution. As we noted yesterday, the construction of the barrier was very likely to continue. "Iraq has modified a U.S. military plan to enclose a Sunni enclave in Baghdad with high concrete walls, and is using barbed wire and smaller cement barriers instead," Reuters noted. "We have sought other substitutes such as barbed wire, sand walls and small concrete barriers," said Brigadier Qassim Moussawi, the spokesman for the Baghdad Security Plan.

Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist political block as well as the Mahdi Army, has called for a protest against the Adhamiya barrier. Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has behind much of the Shia death squad activities over the past year, ironically called referred to the barrier as "the sectarian, racist and unjust wall that seeks to divide" Sunnis and Shiites.

Sadr's political block withdrew from the government last week, surrendering its 6 ministries and 30 seats in the United Iraqi Alliance. Both Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and the U.S. welcomed Sadr's withdrawal. Sadr's calls for protests against the U.S. occupation on Iraq's liberation day on April 9th drew far fewer protesters than expected - no more than ten thousand. In the past, Sadr inspired protests could draw hundreds of thousands of protesters.

The raids against al Qaeda senior operatives continue on a daily basis. Coalition forces killed a senior al Qaeda leader during a raid northwest of Baghdad on April 20th. Abu Abd al-Satter is described as "a known al-Qaeda terrorist leader known to operate in Karmah and Ameriyah areas and was the al-Qaeda in Iraq Security Emir of the eastern Anbar Province." Satter's car bomb cell "used 12- to 13-year-old children as VBIED drivers" to conduct its attacks. One of Satter's associates was killed and another captured during the raid. Today, Coalition forces captured six al Qaeda operatives during raids in Salman Pak and Karma.

Al Qaeda is continuing its suicide campaign in Diyala province. Today, a suicide bomber murdered six police and wounded 16 after he detonated his bomb at a police station in Balad Ruz. This follows yesterday's multiple suicide car bomb attack on a combat outpost in Baqubah, which killed 9 U.S. soldiers. The Baqubah attack was in the mold of prior multiple car bomb attacks, followed by a ground assault, which have occurred over the past several years against outposts in Tarmyia, Husaybah, Abu Ghraib and the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. The fighting in Diyala will only intensify as the U.S. and Iraqi forces build up the capacity to conduct the Diyala Campaign later this spring.

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