Friday, April 23, 2010

Iraqi Forces Detained AQI's 'Ruler of Baghdad'

Via The Long War Journal -

Iraq security forces captured the leader of al Qaeda's network in the capital of Baghdad during an operation more than a month ago. The al Qaeda leader helped direct Iraqi and US forces to the top two leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq, both of whom were killed during a raid near Tikrit last weekend.

Iraqi forces captured Manaf Abdulrehim al Rawi during a raid in Baghdad in March, Major General Qassem Atta, the spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command, said in a press conference, according to Voices of Iraq.

Rawi, who is also known as Falah Abu Hayder, was an Iraqi citizen who was born in Moscow in 1975, Atta said. "He joined the terrorist al Qaeda group in 2003 and was appointed by Abu Omar al Baghdadi as Ruler of Baghdad in 2008."

Rawi was the mastermind of the series of attacks that have rocked Baghdad since August 2009. More than 550 Iraqis have been killed and thousands more wounded in the attacks.

"The suspect is responsible for several terrorist operations, including the assassination of lawmaker Harith al Obaidi," Atta continued. "He also oversaw the blasts that targeted the buildings of the foreign affairs and finance ministries, the provincial council, the court of appeal and the judicial institute."

Rawi's detention was not confirmed by the US military. US Forces Iraq did not respond to an inquiry on Rawi's detention or his importance to al Qaeda in Iraq’s network.

But US military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal did say that the detention of Rawi last month helped paint the intelligence picture that led to the operation last week that killed al Qaeda in Iraq's top two leaders, Abu Ayyub al Masri and Abu Omar al Baghdadi. Al Masri and Baghdad were killed along with Baghdadi's son and a top aide to al Masri during a joint US and Iraqi raid in the Thar Thar region just outside of Tikrit. In the course of the raid, 16 other al Qaeda operatives were detained.

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