Iraqi police in Ninawa province detained a suspected al-Qaeda leader and four other members during a raid on Saturday (April 2nd).
"The leader in the terrorist al-Qaeda organization is a Syrian national and is considered one of 15 well-known, top al-Qaeda leaders in the province, who was responsible for carrying out scores of terrorist operations," said Lt. Col. Abdullah Ghani al-Hamdani, director of public relations and media at the Ninawa police directorate.
Iraqi courts issued arrest warrants for the suspected leader, Ibrahim Salah al-Hassan, and two of his aides last September. They were accused of carrying out terrorist attacks and mass killings.
During Saturday's raid, Iraqi police arrested al-Hassan, his two aides, and three other suspects at a house in an agricultural area near the town of Badoush, 25 kilometers north of Mosul.
A brigade from the Iraqi Army's second division supported the operation by launching a surprise attack on the house. None of the suspects resisted arrest or tried to escape.
Security forces transported the suspects to a security detention center for interrogation. Al-Hamdani said Iraqi forces released one detainee after confirming his identity and determining he was not involved with the other five suspects.
"Al-Hassan and his aides took farming as a cover and they were using agricultural machinery to transport explosives to the outskirts of nearby cities," al-Hamdani said.
Inside the house, Iraqi forces found 320 kilograms of C-4 and TNT explosives, ammunition for light and medium weapons, five rifles and three silencer-equipped pistols.
An engineering unit removed the explosives and transported them to an army camp. The unit also surveyed the surrounding areas to ensure that no weapons or explosives were hidden underground for later use by terrorists.
Capt. Suhail al-Qaraghouli of Mosul city police told Mawtani, "The detainees are charged with killing a number of Christian students at Mosul University, detonating explosives, firing rockets, and participating in three car bomb attacks last year in neighborhoods and population centers in Mosul and the Qayyara sub-district."
Khamis Jassem, a member of the Badoush local council, told Mawtani that information provided by citizens helped security forces arrest al-Hassan and his aides.
"For a while now, a new culture has prevailed of informing security forces about any person who raises a scant level of doubt or makes suspicious movements," he said. "Citizens ask the army to check the person by providing specific and accurate data on him, and that is what happened in the arrest of al-Hassan."
Jassem said he hopes this culture becomes the norm not just among Iraqis in Mosul, but among all Iraqis "to protect themselves and avoid an inevitable catastrophe, and to eliminate terrorism quickly".
Iraqi authorities encourage citizens to call (130) or (104) to report any suspicious activities or to give information about weapons caches that terrorists could use to carry out attacks.
Jassim said the army and police "handle the identity of the persons providing the information with the utmost secrecy".
Waleed Mohammad, 31, a resident of Badoush, said Iraqis are resolved to continue fighting terrorism.
"Al-Qaeda and the militias should know that their fate is imprisonment or death regardless of how long it may take because Iraqis outnumber and are stronger than them," he said.
"We are more optimistic about the future. We no longer have any doubt over the ability of the security forces to establish security and peace in Iraq after the withdrawal of American forces."