An elite force of the Iraqi army arrested Manhal Izzedeen Ridha, the "minister of information" of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq, along with three of his aides in an operation Thursday (February 2nd) in the city of Mosul.
Maj. Gen. Mohammad al-Askeri, spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, told Mawtani that Ridha is now in the hands of the Iraqi forces after "two years of chasing him throughout various parts of Iraq".
"[Ridha] is the one responsible for disseminating the various al-Qaeda statements usually released after major terrorist attacks," al-Askeri said.
The major general said the operation was based on precise intelligence; communications made by persons close to Ridha were monitored, and security operatives were posted to watch a number of homes and buildings that the suspect frequented.
He said Iraqi forces also detained three of his aides and seized a fully equipped media office containing important information and documents which are believed to represent a centre for media operations of al-Qaeda for all Iraqi cities.
Lt. Col. Abdul Raheem al-Atwany, spokesman for the Ninawa Operations Command, said Iraqi forces used two military helicopters and conducted an aerial landing on the house where Ridha was hiding.
Al-Atwany told Mawtani that four detainees were moved to an interim detention centre as a first step prior to their referral to the Iraqi judiciary.
He said Ridha will face nine charges, the most important of which are attacking an army headquarters with missiles, detonating explosions near Mosul University and the tourist district in 2010, and the dissemination of speeches and statements of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq.
He said during the operation, the military forces found CDs containing footage of recent terrorist operations that have not been shown before, in addition to photographs of armed figures attending special sessions and meetings of the organisation prior to the launch of armed attacks.
Maj. Gen. Salih Serhan, director of operations at the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, praised the security operation and the valuable information the military force obtained.
Serhan said this information "will enable Iraqi security forces from the army and police to identify and reach important leading figures of al-Qaeda".
He told Mawtani that the operation "represents a painful blow to al-Qaeda because Ridha's position in the organisation was high and important".
"We are trying to launch different pre-emptive attacks before al-Qaeda and its leaders change their locations."
Serhan said that the operation did not result in any losses for the Iraqi armed forces.
Raheem al-Shammary, chairman of the security committee at the Ninewa provincial council, welcomed the success of the military operation.
"We expect considerable improvement in the security situation during the coming days because the arrest of one of the pillars of the terrorism pyramid in the province and in Iraq in general will have a great impact in the security forces continued pursuance of the other terrorists."
Al-Shammary called on the citizens to collaborate with the security forces to target armed groups "to achieve total security in Ninawa and in all parts of the country".