Iraqi police arrest perpetrators of Sayadet al-Najat Church attacks

A unit of Iraqi Special Forces stormed an al-Qaeda hideout to carry out the arrests. [Saba Al-Bazee / Reuters]

A unit of Iraqi Special Forces stormed an al-Qaeda hideout to carry out the arrests. [Saba Al-Bazee / Reuters]

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Hundreds of Iraqi Muslims and Christians in Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood took to the streets in celebration following the announcement that the perpetrators of the attacks on the Sayedat al-Najat Church were arrested.

Residents of the neighborhood that saw the October 31st attacks launched fireworks and played patriotic songs in cafes, shops and residences.

Al-Qaeda leader arrested

The Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced Saturday (November 27th) the arrest of the terrorist cell that is believed to be responsible for the attack that targeted the church in central Baghdad late last month. Scores of people were killed and wounded.

Security forces made the arrests during a raid on November 24th at dawn targeting a residential building in the al-Dawoodi neighborhood in central Baghdad. The building was used by the suspects as headquarters, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Abu Ragheef, director of internal affairs in the Ministry of Interior, said in a press conference held Saturday evening in Baghdad.

Abu Ragheef said the group consisted of 12 suspected terrorists, including the "military leader" of al-Qaeda in Baghdad, Sheikh Hudhayfa al-Batawi, who replaced Manaf al-Rawi who is currently in custody.

Iraqi forces also killed a suspect believed to be a senior al-Qaeda leader called Abu Ammar al-Najadi, he said.

"The terrorist cell is affiliated with al-Qaeda organization," Abu Ragheef said. "They also confessed to their responsibility for the attacks that targeted the Central Bank of Iraq and al-Arabiya satellite television channel, and also for the robbery of jewelers' stores in al-Baya area, Baghdad, and the 16 bombings that have recently rocked Baghdad."

During the operation, Iraqi forces seized six tons of explosives, a large number of explosives vests, car bombs and a group of bottles filled with poisonous materials. According to Abu Ragheef, al-Qaeda planned to use this material to attack the Green Zone gates, Iraqi ministries, hotels and to target Christian civilians.

Col. Fadhil Abbas of Baghdad Federal Police confirmed to Mawtani that, "The terrorist group is directly responsible for the attack that targeted the church and for other bloody attacks."

Abbas noted that al-Batawi was recruiting suicide bombers, training them and bringing them into Iraq illegally to carry out attacks.

The arrests came following vigorous efforts and intensive intelligence gathering, Abbas said. The efforts were based on the results of earlier investigations conducted by the Iraqi police after arresting a number of terrorists who confessed to carrying out a number of major terrorist attacks linked to the church attack.

A unit of Iraqi Special Forces stormed the al-Qaeda hideout.

The Iraqi forces engaged the suspects holed up inside the house, Abbas said. As a result, al-Najadi was killed and another suspect was wounded. Two of al-Batawi's senior aides were also arrested.

"The arrest of the 12 terrorists led to important information which in turn led to storming five al-Qaeda dens on the same day," Abbas said. "Al-Qaeda was using these five dens for camouflage and to move from one to another. One den was a workshop for making car bombs and it contained large quantities of explosives vests, sticky bombs, silencer-equipped guns, and different explosives weighing six tons, as well as stolen cars that are booby-trapped and set for detonation."

He noted that al-Batawi was posing as a dentist to move around the different neighborhoods of Baghdad.

"The terrorist group represents the top of chain of command in al-Qaeda, and the operation represents a major achievement for the Iraqi police this year in Baghdad," Baghdad police spokesperson Lt. Col. Mushtaq Talib told Mawtani.

Talib said the suspects were transferred to a security detention center to complete investigations pending their arraignment. He added that the results of the investigations will be made public to expose "the criminality and ugliness of this terrorist group" before all Iraqi people.

Iraqis celebrate the arrests

Hajja Amina Adil, 65, insisted on accompanying her grandchildren to share the joy of residents in the Abu Aqlam area.

"Al-Qaeda no longer represents a problem for us," Adil said. "They have become weak, and each day a group of them is arrested. I wish to live until next year so that my eyes can see the declaration of final victory against terrorism in full."

She added, "I will celebrate with everyone, but without dancing. The tears that I shed out of happiness are enough for the world to know that all Iraqis are rejecting [terrorism]."

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  • READER COMMENTS

    علي العقابي

    2012-6-5

    O God, for the sake of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, curse every killer and enemy of Islam. Amen, O Lord of the Worlds!

  • ميرزة خيري

    2012-5-17

    May Allah help our security forces everywhere. I pray that Allah will curse all the movements that cause people harm, and that Allah will take revenge on them. May Allah protect us all from all evils, and may he protect our security forces. Just like any other citizen who fears for his nation, I wish that all the members of al-Qaeda all over the world were executed. But even if that were to happen, the dead would not rise again from their graves. How much do I wish that they would be burned so that the hearts of those that have lost their loved and dear ones because of them would be refreshed, so that they would serve as an example to others whio are implicated in the killing of thousands of innocent Iraqis and the destruction of the future of Iraq! However, if we think realistically, we will find that those that deserve execution are not just individuals, but the foreign organizations and entities that have sown the seeds of these movements. If I were in the position of the authorities in Iraq, I would have made these individuals suffer continuously. But if they are sentenced to death, we would be relieving them, and they do not deserve this relief, as their hands are tainted with the blood of so many people without feeling any remorse. Instead they grew more tyrannical, as their hearts have hardened, and they do not care about any pain that they cause to others. Instead all that they care about is their own interests and the money that they get in exchange for these destructive activities.

  • بدر الدايني

    2010-12-27

    May God bless all the heroes who attacked the hideouts of the criminals. However, we still have some statesmen and police commanders who lie to us, the Iraqis, and try to politicize this heroic national mission, to cover up their negligence and mistakes in the past. The story is exaggerated to the extent that I felt that security had been established after the arrest of this criminal group, because they revealed the names of three-quarters of the members of Al-Qaeda. In the past, we used to have some doubts when we saw an arrested terrorist on TV confessing, and we can imagine what we will say today, because we do not know the truth about the terrorists because of the behavior of the security men.

  • علي الشمري

    2010-12-18

    If there had been only ten people like Mr. General Abu Raghif, Iraq would have been secure. As for me, I nominate him for three positions; he should either be the Minister of the Interior, Deputy Minister of the Interior, or the first advisor to the Minister of the Interior. When I saw and heard him during an interview on the Al-Iraqiyah channel, I was sure that he was the right man in the right place. Like any upright Iraqi citizen, I share our Christian compatriots’ joys and sorrows with them. I really felt pain when the disaster of the Lady of Salvation Church occurred. However, I was also pleased when the criminals who had committed this crime were arrested. I ask God to give me a chance to work in the security forces, as I applied twice to the Higher Institute of Security Development in the Ministry of Defense, but I was not approved, although they knew that I hold a bachelor’s degree (2006/2007). I wish that Mr. Abu Raghif would read my message. I ask God to guide us all to serve Iraq.

  • sara

    2010-12-18

    Terrorism is a cowardly and mean act, and I wish that those traitors would be punished severely. They deserve to be executed in front of the wounded and oppressed Iraqi people. May mercy shower our innocent Muslim and Christian martyrs.

  • زهرة تشرين

    2010-12-17

    May God bless the Iraqis and we are very proud of you. You are a crown on our heads, and Iraq will always be good, as long as real heroes like you are taking care of it. We ask God to protect our Iraq and keep it away from all evils, and make you a thorn in the eyes of all the cowardly terrorists. God will protect you from all evils. We also ask God to curse whoever wishes to harm the Iraqis. Many greeting to you from the daughter of Iraq, and you are the candles of our homeland.

  • gooooodmorning

    2010-12-16

    We all have the right to celebrate any step that brings us close to the end of the disaster that has afflicted the Iraqis, under the name of terrorism and the armed groups under their different names. However, the greatest happiness will be when we dry up the sponsors and financiers of the terrorists, regardless of their names or sects. I swear by God, his Prophet Muhammad and his household that all sponsors of terrorism aim at one thing: that is, to destroy the unity of Iraq and the Iraqis. However, we will succeed in eliminating terrorism and its sponsors, at the hands of the zealous, upright Iraqis and the efforts of our children and brothers in the armed forces. So, I believe that our date with the great happiness is not so far away.

  • اخلاص عمران

    2010-12-16

    I am the sister of the heroic martyr Ali Imran, who was a member of the border guard in Diyala. He was killed by the treacherous terrorists, but whenever I see anyone of the personnel of the security forces, army or police, I sincerely wish to sacrifice my soul for his sake. That is because they sacrifice the most precious thing that they have, which is their souls, to protect us. So, I ask God to protect them and to turn the plotting of Al-Qaeda and the terrorists against themselves. Amen.

  • مناف عبد الصاحب عبود السعدي

    2010-12-15

    I sincerely wish the Iraqis would get rid of all the moral, psychological and intellectual deviants, as well as the homosexuals who represent the Islamic state of Iraq, at the hands of the Iraqi security forces and the army, in cooperation with the heroic Iraqis.

  • سامي

    2010-12-15

    We seek God’s help against them. I ask God to enlighten the minds of such people.

  • علي العراقي

    2010-12-14

    I am from the city of Mosul and I urge all citizens to report the Takfiris to the authorities. I am proud that I reported to the army about my relatives who were working with the dogs of Al-Qaeda. Yes, I started with my relatives, so as not to be a hypocrite, and I will report any suspicious case to our brothers in the army. I wish that you would provide me with the email of the Second and Third Divisions, so I could send them the information that I have about the terrorist groups that destroyed Mosul and Iraq. This is our country, and terrorism has no place here. Yes, I support their execution rather than their release. /////////////////////////////// I also strongly object to targeting the Christians.

  • عمار الديالي

    2010-12-11

    Every honorable Iraqi has the right to rejoice when he hears about any operation against the dirty terrorist organization of Al-Qaeda at any time or place. We ask God the Almighty to shield our security forces and all upright Iraqis.

  • تيتو

    2010-12-11

    May God curse the takfiri terrorists, who do not wish good for the honorable Iraqis. May God bless our heroic security forces.

  • ايثار

    2010-12-10

    I am very proud to belong to the department that arrested the cowardly terrorists who target the Iraqis, including the Christian and Muslim brothers from all sects. We will continue working under leadership of General Ahmad Taha Abu Raghif until we eliminate the terrorists all over Iraq.

  • صباح البدري

    2010-12-10

    What happened in Iraq is not an easy thing, because the Iraqis have witnessed hard and unprecedented times. May God curse all the terrorists. I am confident that our Iraqi forces will deter all the terrorists, by the permission of God. We congratulate them on this great effort, and we wish that Iraq would return to the way it was in the past, when it was free of explosions and car bombs. Say Amen!

  • ابو فهد

    2010-12-8

    May God bless the Iraqi army. The Iraqis, including the Sunnis, Shia, Christians and other religious components of Iraqi society, need to remember how they were during the time of the former regime. We were united and paid no attention to anyone’s religion or sect. This is the day when the heroic Iraqis should cooperate and join hands against the dirty terrorism, and we will win, by the permission of God. Let us not discriminate against anyone because of his religion. Your religion is one, your Lord is one, your prophet is one, and you will stand before God in one row on the Day of Judgment. Your brother Abu Fahd Al-Samarai

  • محمود غفور

    2010-12-5

    God damn every terrorist who targets unarmed Iraqis who want to live peacefully in their country. The terrorists have attacked everyone, claimed the lives of many, bombed, destroyed, displaced, slaughtered and booby-trapped many innocent people, whose blood was shed although they had not committed any sin. In fact, the Iraqi citizen has suffered many hardships and painful situations, but he has been very patient.

  • 2010-12-5

    Although Iraqis have gone through many difficult times, we hope that they will get rid of these terrorists who have wreaked havoc on earth; may God damn them in this life and in the hereafter, because they are criminal terrorists. They target Iraqi civilians. Thus, they do not deserve to live, but to be eradicated once and for all, so we can get rid of their evil, which sabotaged and destroyed and shed the pure blood of the innocent. Iraqis have witnessed nothing but harm, hardships, fear, displacement and loss.

  • حمودي السامرائي

    2010-12-4

    We congratulate our heroic security forces on their successful plans, through which they arrest those criminals and block any opportunity for them to escape or blow themselves up in an attempt to conceal information.

  • ام ساره

    2010-12-4

    Peace be upon you. I am a resident of al-Dawodi, and we all are proud of our army and heroic forces. We support you and rely on God and then on you. You are real heroes and I ask God to have mercy upon our martyrs, whether they were Muslims or Christians.

  • حمود غزال

    2010-12-3

    It has become known, in the context of the work of this despicable organization, that it tries to take revenge, if one of its leaders is arrested, by launching random retaliatory attacks intended to stir up the street and the media, and to confuse the security forces, in order to distract their attention away from their real goals. So the security ministries should not compromise with terrorists and they should not believe that this operation is the final one, because we need to launch continuous and strong strikes against al-Qaeda, to eliminate it completely.

  • عبود مهدي

    2010-12-3

    The bloody events that have occurred in Iraq after the recent war were not a small matter. The terrorist onslaught was really fierce, and the criminal militia followed the same steps as the terrorists. Its role was complementary to that of the terrorists, in an attempt to drain Iraq of its intellectuals and scientific capacities in any way possible.

  • نجم عبدالله

    2010-12-3

    At the security level, there will certainly be an improvement because a senior leader of the organization has fallen, but certainly, the terrorist organization will choose a successor or replacement for this alleged commander. So the Iraqi security forces should not tolerate this or reduce their resolve in the next stages, because the arrest of one of the leaders of al-Qaeda does not mean that al-Qaeda has collapsed or has been completely defeated.

  • سالم حسين

    2010-12-2

    Thanks be to God for arresting the criminal who attacked the church, because this will increase confidence in the security forces.

  • كمال الدراجي

    2010-12-2

    God damn the filthy terrorism, which has offered nothing but havoc to Iraq.

  • 2010-12-2

    The government must execute anyone and everyone who was involved in the terrorist act against the Church.

  • نادر البغدادي

    2010-12-1

    Terrorism exploits religion! It takes advantage of some duped, ordinary Muslim brothers! They make people believe that those who kill in their own interest, and not for the sake of God, will go to paradise! We wonder: does God allow someone who kills an innocent person to go to Heaven? We should not believe such superstitions. You are neither a crazy person nor a stupid one!! Terrorism knows no religion! It believes in domination, slavery and the humiliation of human beings! Terrorism will backfire on those who have supported and helped it! They are dupes! Thanks.

  • 2010-11-29

    The terrorists killed many innocent civilians, because they adopt the culture of Takfir, rape, adultery, sodomy, and other vices that we used to hear about and see on TV, through the confessions they made in the past.

  • سليم عامري

    2010-11-29

    The great campaigns and the sudden crackdowns by our security forces are very successful, and the elements of our security forces deserve praise. We have to congratulate the Iraqi people from the bottom of our hearts on any news about the arrest of a leader of a terrorist cell or a leader in the dirty terrorist organization of Al-Qaeda. When any one of us hears that the security forces have arrested an infidel leader of this terrorist organization, I do not know why an awesome feeling of happiness overwhelms me and strengthens my confidence in the abilities of the security forces. I am one of those people who experience this feeling.