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Iraq Report: Babil Awakening, Al Qaeda-Iran Liaison Captured

2:48 PM, May 31, 2007 • By BILL ROGGIO
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The Awakening movement, which was started in Anbar province by local tribes and Sunni insurgents that opposed al Qaeda's attempts to Talibanize Iraqi society, has now spread to all of the provinces bordering Baghdad. Over the past month, Awakening movements formed in Diyala and Salahadin, and, this week, the Babil Awakening was formed. Al Qaeda in Iraq immediately targeted the leader of the Babil Awakening, Sheikh Obeid Al-Masoud, seriously wounding him and his wife in the city of Iskandaria. Al Qaeda is working to destroy the nascent Awakening movements in the provinces, where they provide a political and ideological alternative to al Qaeda's Islamic State.

IMG_0011low.jpgAn Iraqi policeman waits outside the police
station before going out on a search
and clear patrol down Road Iron.
Photo by Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich.

In Baghdad yesterday, Coalition and Iraqi raids were largely focused on the Mahdi Army. Also, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured a Mahdi Army commander in the Kadamiyah district in central Baghdad yesterday. The Mahdi commander "is alleged to be responsible for providing financial, logistical, and political support for multiple insurgent groups and terrorist organizations" and is also "suspected of overseeing the training of insurgent recruits on terrorist methods including the construction and detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices and Explosively Formed Projectiles."

Two more Mahdi operatives were captured in Sadr City today. "They are believed to be members of the secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training," according to the Multinational Forces Iraq press release. Seventeen members of this network have been killed and 41 captured during numerous raids over the past three weeks.

Also, during a raid in Khanaqin, Coalition forces captured a "liaison to al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders, who assists in the movement of information and documents from al-Qaeda in Iraq leadership in Baghdad to al-Qaeda senior leaders in Iran." Al Qaeda leaders such as Saif al Adel and Said bin Laden, Osama's son, are being sheltered in Iran along with an estimated 100 al Qaeda senior operatives.

Al Qaeda has recently stepped up attacks in the city of Fallujah in the eastern region of Anbar province. A suicide bomber detonated his vest amidst a line of police recruits, and reports indicate that up to 25 recruits and police were killed and another 50 wounded. Yesterday, mortar attacks directed at a court house and civilian neighborhoods in the city killed nine people. And on May 24, a suicide bomber struck a funeral procession. These attacks should be seen as part of al Qaeda's efforts to stop the spread of the Anbar Salvation Council in eastern Anbar province.

While al Qaeda was attacking the residents of Fallujah, in western Baghdad fighting broke out between the 1920 Revolution Brigades and the Islamic Army in Iraq on one side, and al Qaeda in Iraq on the other. Other reports indicate the U.S. joine din the fight against al Qaeda. "The al-Qaida leader in the Amariyah district, known as Haji Hameed, was killed and 45 other fighters were detained," in a battle with Coalition forces, noted the Associated Press. A significant portion of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, in addition to elements of the Islamic Army in Iraq, have turned on AQI in Anbar and other provinces. The two insurgent groups have given substantial support to the Awakening movements spreading throughout Iraq. Many Sunni insurgent groups have opposed al Qaeda's attempts to usurp command of the insurgency, and they have no interest in the establishment of an Islamic State that will be used as a springboard from which to attack neighboring states or foreign governments.