American Forces Press Service
Jan. 22, 2008 - Coalition forces today captured 18 suspected terrorists during anti-insurgent operations conducted across northern Iraq and the Baghdad area, military officials said. One of the detainees was wanted on suspicion of gathering intelligence against coalition and Iraqi forces and providing financial support to Iranian-supported "special groups" members throughout Diyala province. The detainee also was reported to be an associate of several other senior-level criminal leaders involved in attacks on coalition forces.
Intelligence led ground forces to the target location, where they captured the wanted individual and detained one other suspected criminal without incident. Coalition forces also discovered large amounts of American, Iraqi and Iranian currency.
In a separate operation, a second wanted individual was captured in the Qasirin area. He also is a suspected special groups leader who specialized in the use of improvised explosive devices in attacks on coalition and Iraqi forces. He also allegedly is an associate of several other senior-level criminal leaders involved in attacks on coalition forces. One other suspected criminal was detained without incident.
The cease-fire pledge by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on behalf of his militia has helped to increase stability, Navy Cmdr. Scott Rye, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said. "We welcome that stability, but we will continue to dismantle the criminal networks of those who choose not to honor the pledge," he said.
Meanwhile, coalition forces detained 19 more suspected terrorists during other operations today and yesterday in central and northern Iraq.
Today, during multiple operations in Baqouba, east of Samarra, and in Mosul, coalition forces detained 11 suspected terrorists while targeting al Qaeda in Iraq associates involved in IED attacks and foreign-terrorist networks.
Also today, coalition forces detained three suspects in Baghdad during an operation that targeted a local kidnapping network.
North of Taji yesterday, coalition forces captured a suspected terrorist believed to be a key member of the al Qaeda in Iraq network in Baghdad. He allegedly is a direct subordinate of the network's senior leader and previously served in Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad. The suspected terrorist allegedly was involved in attacks against coalition forces, as well as beheadings, sniper and IED attacks, and foreign-terrorist facilitation. An additional four suspected terrorists were detained during the operation.
"Iraqi and coalition forces continue our efforts to drive al Qaeda in Iraq members and other extremists from their hiding places and bring them to justice," said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.
In Jan. 20 Iraq operations:
-- Coalition forces liberated two Iraqi males with signs of torture from an al Qaeda prison south of Baqouba. U.S. 2nd Infantry Division soldiers were participating in Operation Raider Harvest, the Diyala province portion of Operation Phantom Phoenix, a countrywide offensive to rid Iraq of extremists. "We could hear voices inside the room," said Army Spc. Christopher Nollenberg, one of the first U.S. troops to enter the building where the captives were being held. "They called out for help and told us they were prisoners." The liberated prisoners, who'd been kidnapped on Jan. 9, were transported to a nearby base for medical treatment, meals and questioning.
-- An evening air strike hit more than 30 suspected al Qaeda safe havens in Arab Jabour. Thirty-five bombs were dropped with a total weight of 19,000 pounds in support of the countrywide Operation Phantom Phoenix. The strikes were focused "on IEDs and caches that we have targeted, that will allow us to get our ground troops further into the zone," said Army Col. Terry Ferrell, 2nd Brigade Combat Team commander.
-- Multinational Division Baghdad troops uncovered a terrorist weapons cache during a combat patrol in Baghdad's West Rashid district. Soldiers seized 76 mortar rounds of various sizes, four rocket-propelled grenades, four bottles of homemade explosive, nine fuses, two hand grenades, and an unknown number of blasting caps.
-- U.S. soldiers operating in and around Baghdad found two sniper rifles, an M-4 carbine with a scope, an AK-47 assault rifle, 20 to 30 magazines and a case containing about 400 million dinars in Iraqi currency.
During Jan. 19 operations, Iraqi police arrested two suspected extremists in Baghdad's West Rashid district. Iraqi police briefly engaged three men with small-arms fire. One suspected extremist fled in a vehicle, while two others were detained. Officials believe the men are connected to an indirect-fire attack on the International Zone. The alleged extremists were taken to a coalition base for further questioning.
Also Jan. 19 near Taji, Iraqi and U.S. commandos detained two members of a terrorist cell specializing in suicide-bombing attacks. The suspects are believed to be responsible for coordinating and providing supplies for several attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.
During Jan. 18 operations:
-- An Iraqi special weapons and tactics team, advised by U.S. special operations forces, detained three members of an al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist cell during an operation in Rutbah. The suspected terrorists are believed responsible for coordinating attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces, as well as kidnapping and murdering Iraqi citizens. The suspects also are believed to be involved in providing weapons and funding for terrorist attacks, officials said.
-- Iraqi and coalition forces destroyed two empty structures used by terrorists in Diyala province. One of the buildings was believed to be a terrorist safe house, and the other was a small storage facility. They were destroyed after it was discovered that the structures had been rigged with explosives.
-- U.S. soldiers attached to Task Force Dragon found two enemy weapons caches during Operation Phantom Phoenix-related operations in the Baghdad area. One cache contained two blasting caps, six rocket-propelled-grenade motors, two 120 mm artillery shells, and 51 linked 7.62 mm machine gun rounds. Another discovered cache contained an M-1 Garand rifle with a missing bolt, a machine gun, a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, and 200 .30-06 caliber rounds. Two men found at the site were arrested. Under Iraqi law, families are allowed to keep one AK-47 rifle and one full 30-round magazine in their homes for protection.
Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers acted on citizens' tips to confiscate two weapons caches during Jan. 17-18 raids near Jisr Diyala, south of Baghdad. The two caches contained 75 120 mm mortar rounds, one bag of mortar propellant and a bag of mortar fuses.
"This is definitely a step in the right direction," said Army 1st Lt. Daniel Bell, with 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team. "We have good people in the area that are very proactive in finding things that they know need to be cleared out of their communities. They are not just doing it for themselves. They are doing it for the betterment of their country."
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)