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Forces Dismantle Terrorist Group in Northern Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2010 - Iraqi security forces arrested 10 suspected terrorists yesterday, bringing to at least 22 the number of suspected al-Qaida in Iraq members apprehended or killed in northern Iraq in the past two weeks, military officials said.

Six of those captured or killed are believed to have been senior leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq operating in the northern part of the country.

The ten arrests yesterday were part of two combined security operations targeting al-Qaida in Iraq in and around Mosul and Kirkuk. Both operations were conducted pursuant to warrants issued by Iraqi judges.

In a rural area about 30 miles southwest of Kirkuk, Iraqi police and U.S. advisors searched two residential buildings for a suspected AQI member who allegedly provides financing and vehicles to the terrorist group.

A preliminary investigation at the scene led Iraqi police to arrest two suspected criminal associates of the wanted AQI member.

In a separate operation conducted in and around Mosul, Iraqi soldiers and U.S. advisors searched several buildings for a suspected AQI member believed to extort money from oil transporters and contractors to fund the terrorist group. A preliminary investigation led Iraqi soldiers to apprehend eight suspected criminal associates of the wanted man.

The ten arrests cap off several Iraqi-U.S. security operations to dismantle al-Qaida in Iraq in northern Iraq in the past two weeks. The operations resulted in the deaths or arrests of at least six suspected senior AQI leaders believed to greatly contribute to funding the terrorist group by their involvement in a highly-organized extortion and assassination ring based in Mosul.

Each operation was conducted pursuant to a court warrant.

The six captured or killed suspects include the overall AQI commander of northern Iraq, four men who head the group's funding, and a regional commander for Mosul. Without these individuals in the AQI network, it is expected that AQI's ability to operate and restructure will be severely hindered, officials said.

The overall AQI commander of northern Iraq was killed on March 18 after firing a handgun at a combined team of Iraqi soldiers and U.S. advisors. Identified as Khalid Muhammad Hasan Shallub al-Juburi, also known as Shaykh Khalid, the man was believed responsible for distributing AQI's finances, and approving its operations and attacks.

On March 23, a combined team of Iraqi soldiers and U.S. advisors shot and killed Abu Ahmad al-Afri, also known as Abu Marwa. It is believed that al-Afri's duties in AQI included receiving and accounting for all money collected by subordinate units of the terrorist group in northern Iraq. In addition, al-Afri has a long history of involvement in extortion to fund terrorist activities throughout northern Iraq and was arrested for these activities in 2007.

A separate security operation conducted the morning of March 24 by a combined team of Iraqi soldiers and U.S. advisors netted the arrests of 12 people, including the suspected top three oil-extortion personalities for AQI.

In addition to managing the extortion of oil companies and small businesses throughout northern Iraq, the three are believed to have maintained close associations with the top leaders of AQI and their couriers. Since at least 2005, the suspected AQI oil minister is known to have held a variety of senior level AQI leadership positions, including commander of Haditha and Anbar province.

The suspected AQI head of Mosul was killed the afternoon of March 24 after firing a handgun at a combined team of Iraqi soldiers and U.S. advisors. Credible intelligence indicated that Bashar Khalaf Husyan Ali al Jaburi, also known as Dhafir and Abu Huda, was heavily involved in coordinating and approving attacks and assassinations, many of which were related to AQI's extortion operations.

"The capture of all six AQI extortion and assassination-network leaders in the last two weeks will likely greatly disrupt AQI operations and prevent future attacks throughout Iraq," U.S. military officials said in a statement released yesterday. "The money collected from extortion, and the extortion of oil companies in particular, comprises the bulk of AQI's income, which is subsequently used to fund the terrorist group's deadly attacks against the Iraqi people."

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