August 24, 2008

Coalition forces capture two key al-Qaeda leaders in Baghdad

BAGHDAD – Coalition forces captured two suspected senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders in Baghdad during recent operations, dealing AQI a hefty blow by removing experienced terrorists from the top of the extremist network.

Salim ‘Abdallah Ashur al-Shujayri, also known as Abu Uthman, was captured during an operation Aug. 11. He is reportedly the AQI emir of the Rusafa district of Baghdad. Ali Rash Nasir Jiyad al-Shammari, also known as Abu Tiba, was captured Aug. 17. Both men are assessed to be longtime members of AQI.

Abu Tiba is assessed to be the AQI senior advisor in Baghdad, providing guidance and targeting assistance to subordinates throughout the city, including Abu Uthman. Abu Tiba is suspected of terrorist activity since 2005. He was previously reported to be the AQI emir of the Karkh district of Baghdad and managed the AQI presence in the capital during its most active operational period in early 2007. He reportedly oversaw financial and attack operations for up to 15 attack cells, providing them with money, weapons and explosives. He is alleged to have personally approved targets for car and suicide bombings targeting Iraqi civilians, intended to incite sectarian violence.

In Baghdad’s Rusafa district, Abu Uthman is suspected of overseeing car-bombings and suicide attacks by his network, which targeted Iraqi civilians and attempted to incite sectarian violence. Reporting also indicates he associates with AQI senior leaders, including AQI leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.

Abu Uthman was initially a leader in another extremist group where he handled the group’s finances and oversaw a group of 100 subordinates. He is alleged to have participated in both battles in Fallujah in April and November 2004, when other terrorists began calling him “Abu Nimr,” meaning “The Tiger.”

He is believed to be the planner behind the kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll. His associates have allegedly been involved in several other kidnappings, including a group of Christian peacemakers and Margaret Hassan.

Although the capability of AQI’s bombing network in Baghdad is degraded, it is still able to conduct sporadic attacks, targeting Iraqi civilians. In 2007, AQI conducted almost 300 bombings, killing more than 1,500 civilians and injuring more than twice that many. In the first half of 2008, 28 attacks killed 125 Iraqi civilians.

“The capture of Abu Tiba and Abu Uthman eliminates two of the few remaining experienced leaders in the AQI network,” said Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, MNF-I spokesman. “Iraqi and Coalition forces have made great strides in improving security in Iraq, especially in Baghdad.”

Source: MNF-Iraq.

By Howie at 08:30 PM | Comments |