Saturday, May 1, 2010

Militant Led Iraqis to Al-Qaida Chiefs

Via -

Leery of using a mobile phone, the militant tasked with directing some of Baghdad's deadliest recent bombings would get his orders from al-Qaida in Iraq's leadership by meeting a go-between near a grocery store named Mr. Milk.

So after Iraqi security forces nabbed the militant, Munaf Abdul-Rahim al-Rawi, it was to Mr. Milk's store that he led investigators. That was the first step culminating in what Iraqi and American officials called a devastating blow to the terror group: the killing of al-Qaida in Iraq's secretive two top leaders in a raid last week.

In an interview this week with The Associated Press, al-Rawi offered a rare insight into the shadowy terror group that continues to plague Iraq after years of deadly attacks aiming to push the country into civil war.

Al-Rawi's arrest itself was something of a coup for Iraqi security forces. Known by his underlings as "the dictator," al-Rawi commanded al-Qaida operations in Baghdad, and an Iraqi security spokesman confirmed that al-Rawi played a role in a number of attacks, including the August 2009 bombings of several government ministries that killed more than 100 people.

On March 11, al-Rawi was passing through a Baghdad checkpoint, where a guard recognized him from his photo on a most-wanted list and arrested him, al-Rawi said.

But the capture was kept secret from the public, as he gave investigators information that eventually led to the April 18 strike that killed Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Now al-Rawi will likely face trial for his own role. In the 45-minute interview, he shrugged off worries over his fate. "My hope is to enter paradise," al-Rawi said. "One of the investigators said a death sentence is waiting for me. I told him, 'It is normal.'"

Security spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi described al-Rawi as the militant who led investigators to al-Baghdadi and al-Masri. Speaking to reporters last week, U.S. Brig. Gen. Ralph Baker also said al-Rawi was a vital source who along with others "have all been instrumental in leading to the success of the capture and the killing of the senior leadership in al-Qaida."

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