Six al-Qaeda leaders arrested in Kirkuk

Iraqi national police take part in a search operation in Baghdad in 2006. [Jason Dangel/AFP]

Iraqi national police take part in a search operation in Baghdad in 2006. [Jason Dangel/AFP]

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Iraqi security forces successfully disrupted a meeting of top al-Qaeda leaders in Kirkuk province Friday (December 28th) and arrested six men, the Ministry of Defence said.

Among the detainees are three senior leaders – identified as Saad Naji, Faraj Farhan and Ali Salem – believed to have masterminded terrorist attacks in Kirkuk, Ninawa and the Himreen mountains, said Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, commander of the Iraqi army land forces.

The three "carry death sentences in absentia for their roles in the murder of dozens of citizens and security forces, as well as causing injury to hundreds of others in violent terrorist attacks that hit the country in the past three years", he told Mawtani.

Members of the 2nd Army Division's 8th Brigade and the National Police Assault Unit carried out the raid early Friday morning after officials received a tip from tribal leaders about an important meeting of al-Qaeda commanders, Ghaidan said.

The meeting was being held early Friday morning in a huge residential building in al-Zaghaitun village, south of Kirkuk, he said.

"Aerial support [was provided] by the army, which succeeded in encircling the place, storming the building and clashing with the gunmen for a few minutes before [the suspects] were forced to surrender," he said.

The six detainees were taken to an army camp as a first step, he said, and later will be moved to a detention centre specifically used for cases of terrorism.

In addition to the arrests, Iraqi forces "seized large quantities of ammunition and weapons during the operation", he added.

"The raid went on swiftly as the information was delivered to the army by tribal leaders, which conformed with calls made by local citizens and farmers in that village," said Col. Nasser Saleh al-Taie, commander of the Iraqi army's 8th Brigade.

Al-Taie told Mawtani that Naji, Farhan and Salem "had also facilitated the movement of foreign and Iraqi suicide bombers, as well as taken part in criminal acts of money laundering".

The Iraqi parliament's security and defence committee chairman, Aifan al-Issawi, described the raid as an important accomplishment.

"Committee members were informed of the raid's details and were especially pleased by the security forces' courage and the extent of co-operation shown by the citizens, more than by the success of the operation itself," he told Mawtani.

"It is expected that the six terrorists and the details of the daring raid launched by the Iraqi forces will be shown on television to inform the public of the scope and horror of the crimes committed by the terrorists," al-Issawi said.

Such a report will demonstrate "the security forces' ability to confront terrorism, as well as the importance of co-operation between citizens and security forces in defeating al-Qaeda in this country," he said.

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    هادي منصور

    2013-1-9

    I greet the people of Iraq and I demand them to work on getting rid of terrorism and the terrorists, because this really has a very important role. Hence, we should not put all the efforts upon the government alone. There must be coordination between all the citizens and the Ministry of Interior in order to stop the crimes of terrorism inside Iraq. We hope that this will lead to the elimination of terrorism. However, the dream may come true because things have come closer.

  • حيدر الحلي

    2013-1-9

    It is common knowledge that all the countries consist of a group of sects and tribes. Competition always exists between these tribes, but it must remain fair and honest in order to achieve the public interests. Otherwise, this will lead increase the gap between these tribes. This gap can cause worse consequences such as the conflict between these tribes. In some cases, there might be some causes of this, but in most cases, there are no reasons. This is what is really happening in Iraq. The Iraqi tribes sign a charter of honor and there should be a stand to stop this situation in Iraq. Therefore, I demand the Iraqi officials to sign a charter of honor to stop the daily bloodbaths between these tribes. However, no one listens to their demand or the causes of this conflict. We need to patience in order to know this well.

  • فريد الياسري

    2013-1-8

    We respect all the Iraqi tribes that provided information about the terrorists who live in Kirkuk. They have all our respect and appreciation, because they helped the Iraqi authorities significantly. The tribal leaders are certainly the source of these information and this makes us optimistic about the cooperation between the Iraqi tribes and security forces. The Iraqis will not be able to get out of this dark tunnel without such cooperation. We wish that all the tribes in Iraq would enjoy the same patriotic sense as the people in Kirkuk. I also wish to see this cooperation between the Iraqi people and the security forces. However, I feel that there is some fear, but I do not think that it would prevent the tribal leaders from speaking. We also should habituate the tribesmen to enjoy these manners and to report any information about the movements of Al-Qaeda to the security authorities to achieve the interests of Iraq with the efforts of the tribes, the people, and the government. Iraq must be our priority under all circumstances.

  • محمد ماهر محمود

    2013-1-8

    I congratulate the Iraqi forces for the great victories that they have made recently,especially getting rid of terrorism and arresting some of the terrorist elements, which had been threatening the security and future of Iraq. This will only come true through the bravery of the Iraqi forces and their relentless efforts side by side with the help of the people of Iraq. The acts of the Iraqi tribal leaders and providing information about leaders of Al-Qaeda in Kirkuk are one of the true manners of the Arabs that we dream of ruling the world. Hence, we praise this move on part of the tribal leaders and we wish that they would always do the best, God willing.

  • علي العلي

    2013-1-5

    I call on the fair judiciary in Iraq to issue deterrent rules against all those who were involved in the terrorist crimes and operations in Iraq to the extent that they would be executed in the Public Square to be an example. In this way, they would fear death or murder and we wish that things could return to their previous conditions. We ask God to help us to restore security to Iraq and to save it from the terrorist crimes that target their innocent citizens.

  • سعيد يحيى

    2013-1-3

    We thank God first and thank you dear heroes. Second, this operation is one its kind.