Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Iraq: On Ground Updates - October 15, 2008 - Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s Number Two Leader Killed


Press Release A081015a-001
Tuesday, October 15, 2008

Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s Number Two Leader Killed

BAGHDAD, Iraq – A terrorist killed by Coalition forces during an operation in Mosul on Oct. 5 has been positively identified as Abu Qaswarah.

Abu Qaswarah, also known as Abu Sara, was the al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leader of northern Iraq. A Moroccan native, Abu Qaswarah had historic ties to AQI founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and senior al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Abu Qaswarah took the role of the senior AQI emir of northern Iraq in June 2007. He was al-Qaeda in Iraq’s second in command and AQI Emir Abu Ayyub al-Masri’s senior operational leader.

Significant intelligence collected in the hunt for Abu Qaswarah led Coalition forces to a building in Mosul that served as a key command and control location for AQI. Upon entering the building, forces were immediately fired upon. Coalition forces returned fire in self defense, leading to the death of five terrorists. It was later determined that one of the five was positively identified as Abu Qaswarah.

Abu Qaswarah was a charismatic AQI leader who rallied AQI’s northern network in the wake of major setbacks to the terrorist organization across Iraq. He was responsible for organizing and leading AQI efforts in northern Iraq, including operations against Iraqi and Coalition targets in Mosul. Abu Qaswarah oversaw the failed attempt to destroy the Mosul Civic Center during the Holy month of Ramadan – an attack that could have killed hundreds of innocent Iraqis.

A foreign terrorist who trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Abu Qaswarah directed the movement of foreign terrorists into northern Iraq. Such foreign terrorists have been responsible for multiple suicide attacks against Iraqi civilians in the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. Abu Qaswarah reportedly killed foreign terrorists who wanted to return to their home countries instead of carrying out attacks against Iraqi citizens.

Abu Qaswarah’s death will cause a major disruption to the AQI network, as he played a significant role in tying numerous al-Qaeda links together in order to conduct terrorist activities in Iraq. His death will significantly degrade AQI operations in Mosul and Northern Iraq, leaving the network without a leader to oversee and coordinate its operations in the region.

“Abu Qaswarah is another example of how al-Qaeda in Iraq has been forced to rely on foreign terrorists to carry out their vicious attacks on the Iraqi people as well as Coalition and Iraqi forces,” said Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman. “The Iraqi people do not want them here, and Coalition and Iraqi forces will continue to work together to weed them out of the country. Terrorists who bring radical and fanatic Islam into Iraq commit murderous acts against the people of Iraq and have no place in the future of Iraq.”

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