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Apr 21st, 2010

Top Two Al-Qaida in Iraq Leaders Slain

Scattered violence across Iraq

Al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (Image: Fox News)

April 20, 2010

BAGHDAD — Iraqi and U.S. troops killed a regional leader of al-Qaida in Iraq in an early morning raid Tuesday, as security forces continue to put pressure on the terrorist organization following the reported deaths of its two top-ranking figures over the weekend, officials said.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri were killed in a joint operation Sunday in what Vice President Joe Biden called a “potentially devastating blow” to al-Qaida in Iraq.


Two senior leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq killed (NBC Nightly News, April 19, 2010) — Vice President Joe Biden says Iraqi security forces, with the support of U.S. forces, killed the two most senior leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq. (03:36)

The intelligence that led to the elusive leaders’ desert safehouse about six miles southwest of Tikrit came from the same source — a senior al-Qaida operative captured last month — that produced the information leading to Tuesday’s raid, according to a senior Iraqi military intelligence officer who supervised both operations.

Building on information provided by the captured al-Qaida agent, Iraqi intelligence services were able to track down all three of the men, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the clandestine nature of his job. …

In Tuesday’s raid, American and Iraqi joint forces launched a morning attack in the northern province of Ninevah, killing suspected insurgent leader Ahmed al-Obeidi, Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said.

Al-Moussawi said the slain insurgent, known as Abu Suhaib, was in charge of al-Qaida in Iraq’s operations in the provinces of Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Ninevah. …

U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza said the bodies of al-Masri and al-Baghdadi were identified using DNA matching, as well as fingerprint analysis and other methods. …

The Iraqi officer said Iraqi troops surrounded the safehouse and a firefight began with those inside. Iraqi forces then radioed American helicopters, which fired missiles at the house and the shooting from inside stopped, the officer said. …

Once the shooting stopped, they went inside and found two women still alive — one was al-Masri’s wife — and four dead men who have been identified as al-Masri, his assistant, al-Baghdadi and al-Baghdadi’s son. A suicide vest was found on al-Masri’s corpse, the officer said. …

The terrorist organization in the past has reacted to the deaths of leading figures with new attacks, but it was not immediately clear whether scattered violence Tuesday across the country was related.

In one incident north of Baghdad, gunmen stormed into the home of a member of a Sunni group that joined forces with the Americans to fight al-Qaida in Iraq, killing his wife, his 22-year-old daughter, and his three other children ages 8 to 12, a police officer said.

The member of the local Sahwa, or Awakening Council, was working a shift at a nearby checkpoint and discovered the bodies when he returned to his home in Tarmiyah, about 30 miles north of Baghdad, the officer said. An Interior Ministry official confirmed the deaths.

Elsewhere, a police colonel and his driver were killed by a roadside bomb in the western city of Hit, while seven other policemen and four civilians were injured in bombings in Ramadi and Baghdad, according to police officers in the cities. …


4/23/10 Update

Wave of Deadly Bombings Hits Iraq

At least 69 killed, 200 wounded

Image: Men carry a victim injured in one of a series of parked car bombs in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City
Men carry a victim injured in one of a series of parked car bombs in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City on Friday, April 23, 2010. (Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP)

April 23, 2010

BAGHDAD — The bloodiest day of the year in Iraq on Friday left at least 69 people dead in a series of bombs in mainly Shiite areas — concerted attacks seen as demonstrating the resilience of the Sunni-led insurgency after the slaying of two al-Qaida leaders last weekend.

No one has taken responsibility for the blasts, but officials were quick to blame Sunni-led insurgent groups for attacking at a particularly fragile time as Iraq awaits formation of a new government and prepares for U.S. troops to go home by the end of next year.

The protracted political wrangling since contentious March 7 elections has raised fears of sectarian violence akin to that seen at the height of the war. …

Officials have warned that the insurgents remain capable of staging high-profile bombings despite the killing of their two leaders, which U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called a “potentially devastating blow” to al-Qaida in Iraq.

Friday’s apparently coordinated attacks came in a two-hour span shortly after the Shiites’ call to prayer across the capital. The major blasts were in former Shiite militia strongholds, underscoring the insurgents’ professed aim of provoking a new round of sectarian bloodshed. Among the targets of the car and roadside bombs were three Shiite mosques.

In the vast eastern Baghdad slum of Sadr City, hundreds of worshippers knelt on prayer mats in the streets surrounding the offices of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr when the deadliest blasts went off. …

Onlookers in Sadr City threw stones at arriving Iraqi security forces, frustrated that the troops cannot secure the city. The troops fired their guns in the air to scatter the crowd.

Two of the bombs exploded in the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Zafaraniyah, killing one person and wounding 12.

Two others targeted mosques linked with prominent Shiite political leaders. A car bomb at the Hadi al-Chalabi mosque in the Hurriyah neighborhood killed eight people and wounded 19. The mosque is named after the father of Ahmed Chalabi, who was behind much of the faulty intelligence that resulted in the U.S.-led invasion and has since led efforts to bar many Sunni political figures from office.

A bomb targeting the Muhsin al-Hakim mosque killed 14 people and wounded 36. That mosque is named after the grandfather of Ammar al-Hakim, a leading Shiite political figure whose party has ties to Iran. …

Three people died in scattered violence elsewhere in the capital.

Bombs also ripped through the houses of Iraqi policemen in the former insurgent stronghold of Anbar province, killing at least seven people, including a soldier trying to defuse one of the devices, authorities said.

April has been the deadliest month in Iraq so far this year, with more than 263 civilians killed in war-related violence, according to an Associated Press count. Still, violence is dramatically lower than past years. …

Photo chronicle
Image: Bombing in Baghdad
Mayhem in Baghdad
Dozens are killed in a series of deadly bombings targeting Shiite worshipers.


4/24/10 Update

Al-Qaida in Iraq Confirms Deaths of Leaders

Deadly bombings came as reprisals

April 24, 2010

LONDON — Al-Qaida in Iraq has confirmed in a statement posted on the Internet that two of its leaders were killed in a joint raid a week ago by U.S. and Iraqi troops.

The killings of al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported head of its affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, or ISI, have been blamed for a series of apparent reprisal bombings that killed at least 56 people in Shiite areas of Baghdad on Friday.

The al-Qaida statement, posted on Islamist Internet forums and translated on Sunday by SITE Intelligence Group, quotes Abu al-Walid Abd al-Wahhab al-Mashadani, identified as the Sharia Minister of the ISI, as confirming that Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, and Baghdadi were killed in a military operation on April 18 in Thar-Thar, 50 miles northwest of Baghdad. …

“He said that the ‘Crusaders’ and Shiites will exploit the incident to improve the image of Iraqi security services and give the enemy alliance an ‘illusory’ victory after the mass-casualty incidents carried out by the ISI in Baghdad,” the statement added, in an apparent reference to Friday’s bomb attacks.

Masri and Baghdadi were found dead in a hole in the ground after their safe house was hit by a missile and stormed by Iraqi and U.S. troops.

Their deaths could be a major setback to the stubborn insurgency at a time when Iraq is emerging from the sectarian slaughter unleashed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion but the country still struggles to end suicide bombings.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — April 21, 2009

Image: Christopher Hill, President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next ambassador to Iraq.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill
(Photo credit: Evan Vucci / AP)

Hill Confirmed as Iraq Envoy

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that the U.S. Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, after debate over whether he mismanaged international disarmament talks with North Korea. Meanwhile, suspected militants shelled Baghdad’s protected Green Zone in the first such bombardment in more than three months.

5 Responses to “Al-Qaida in Iraq Decapitated”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Iraq Election Turmoil Says:

    […] Al-Qaida in Iraq Decapitated (April 21, 2010) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Times Square Bomb Plot Suspects Says:

    […] In a one-minute video, the Pakistani Taliban said the Times Square bomb was in revenge for the death of its leader Baitullah Mehsud and the recent killings of the top leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Cascade of Violence in Iraq Says:

    […] The U.S. and Iraq have claimed major blows again al-Qaida in Iraq over the last month — most notably the killings of two militant leaders Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri in an April 18, 2010 raid on their safehouse near Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » New York Bomb Suspect Arrested Says:

    […] The Taliban in Pakistan said Sunday it planted the bomb to avenge the death of its leader Baitullah Mehsud, the recent killings of the top two leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq, and U.S. interference in Muslim countries […]

  5. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » The Taliban’s “Dirty Dozen” Says:

    […] Al-Qaida in Iraq Decapitated […]

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