WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2006 – U.S. soldiers in recent days have recovered an Iraqi hostage and captured a terrorist cell leader, officials said. Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from D Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, captured the terrorist cell leader during an Aug. 10 cordon-and-search operation southwest of Baghdad.
The cell leader is directly linked to a July 17 attack on a local market in Mahmudiyah, which killed 40 Iraqis and wounded another 70 others. "Our soldiers are simply awesome," said Col. Todd Ebel, commander of 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. "This is the third top member of this violent and elusive terrorist cell we have detained in recent weeks."
Also on Aug. 10, an Iraqi man being held hostage was freed after Task Force Band of Brothers soldiers found him blindfolded and bound in the back of a vehicle near Baqubah. The rescue occurred after a 101st Combat Aviation Brigade helicopter that was patrolling the area spotted the vehicle. The pilot noticed a suspicious gathering of people around the vehicle and reported the sighting.
A ground patrol attached to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was sent to the area to investigate and found the man who claimed to have been kidnapped in Baqubah on Aug. 2. The soldiers treated the man for his injuries and provided him a cell phone to call his family before taking him to a nearby coalition base, military officials said.
This is the second hostage rescue by Iraqi and Task Force Band of Brothers soldiers in the past two weeks. On July 30, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers raiding a suspected terrorist weapons cache near Muqdadiyah freed another Iraqi man the day before he was to be "judged" and likely killed by his kidnappers, officials said.
Kidnapping, whether for ransom, terror or propaganda use, continues to be a key terrorist and criminal tactic throughout Iraq. Teamwork between coalition forces and increasingly capable Iraqi security forces, aided and abetted by local residents, is aimed at identifying and capturing these kidnappers, military officials said.
Tip lines have been established in the provincial joint communication centers in Iraq's northern provinces to allow residents to anonymously provide information about terrorist activity, officials said.