U.S. forces capture 60 suspected terrorists in Baghdad in new security crackdown

U.S. forces capture 60 suspected terrorists in Baghdad in new security crackdown
August 12th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S. forces capture 60 suspected terrorists in Baghdad in new security crackdown

U.S. forces capture 60 suspected terrorists in Baghdad in new security crackdown
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 12 August 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_U.S. forces raided a funeral gathering and detained 60 men
suspected of links with an al-Qaida cell blamed for a spate of car bomb
attacks in Baghdad, the U.S. command said Saturday.

It was the first major roundup of suspected insurgents since U.S.
reinforcements started streaming into Baghdad last week as part of a new
crackdown on violence in the capital, which has raised fears of full-scale
civil war.

A statement by the U.S. military said the arrests were made Friday in Arab
Jabour, a southern neighborhood of Baghdad and a stronghold of Sunni

The 60 detained men are believed associated with a senior Iraqi al-Qaida
leader in a cell that "specializes in bomb making," the statement said.

"The group has been reported to be planning and conducting training for
future attacks," it said. "Multiple forms of credible intelligence led the
assault force to the location, later determined to be a funeral gathering,
where the suspects were detained."

Women and children were separated from the men and the arrests were made
without incident, the statement said without giving any details.

Baghdad and the Sunni-dominated Anbar province west of the capital are
centers of the insurgency, which uses bombings, suicide attacks, mortar
barrages and armed assaults by gunmen.

Attention has focused on Baghdad due to a rise in Sunni-Shiite bloodshed,
which U.S. officials describe as the greatest danger facing Iraq's new
government of national unity. Between 1,000 and 1,500 people have been
killed every month in the Baghdad area since January.

U.S. commanders are rushing nearly 12,000 American and Iraqi troops into the
capital to stem the violence. The military has not said how many
reinforcements have arrived in Baghdad, but some soldiers of the Army's
172nd Stryker Brigade have been seen on the city's streets.

Much of the sectarian violence is blamed on the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia
of firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which had confronted U.S. forces in
November 2004, resulting in heavy fighting.

In an interview with the New York Times published Saturday, the U.S.
ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said that Iran is instigating Shiite
militias to step up attacks on U.S. forces in retaliation for the Israeli
assault on Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Shiite Hezbollah is backed by Iran.

Iran's prodding has led to a surge in mortar and rocket attacks on the
fortified Green Zone, the 4-square-mile compound that houses the main
components of the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy, Khalilzad was
quoted as saying.

The Shiite guerrillas behind the attacks are members of splinter groups of
the Mahdi Army, he said. The newspaper quoted unnamed officials of the Sadr
Organization as saying that the rogue elements of the Mahdi Army are not
under their control and carry out attacks without guidance from al-Sadr.

"Iran is seeking to put more pressure, encourage more pressure on the
coalition from the forces that they are allied with here," Khalilzad was
quoted as saying in the interview Friday.

U.S. Embassy officials were not immediately available to confirm Khalilzad's

The extent of Iranian involvement here has long been the subject of debate
within the U.S. military and civilian establishment. Privately, some senior
U.S. officials are skeptical that the Iranian government is doing more than
providing money to selected Shiite groups.

Others insist the Iranians are providing weapons and training to some Shiite

The increase in attacks on the Green Zone also followed a coalition
crackdown on Mahdi Army elements in Basra, Mahmoudiya, Musayyib and Baghdad.
It was unclear whether attacks on the Green Zone were at the behest of Iran
or in retaliation for pressure from U.S. and British troops.

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