In a press conference held Monday (January 18th) the Iraqi Ministry of Defence showed recorded video confessions of men officials said were leaders in the so-called Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group.
The nine men, who include a Syrian national, are accused of carrying out attacks against civilians and security forces in Baghdad and Ninawa province.
Ministry of Defence spokesperson Gen. Mohammed al-Askari said airing the video confessions was "a message to the groups that still carry arms, telling them their fate will be either to be killed or arrested".
"The Ministry of Defence won't allow those who attack Iraqi citizens to proceed with their assaults. Therefore, the security forces pledged to forge ahead with combating terrorism and patching up all the security holes that take place in the sectors for which we are responsible," al-Askari added.
In his confession, Mohammed Ramzi Shehab, 35, a resident of Ninawa who worked as an accountant in the Dollar Market in the city of Mosul, said "I joined the Islamic State of Iraq in 2007. I received funds from my father who lives in London. He asked me to carry out jihadist operations against the government of al-Maliki. I was appointed by a Pakistani imam as the mufti of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2007."
"I issued a fatwa for slaughtering Hasan al-Mohannad, who worked as a porter," said Shehab. "I issued another fatwa for kidnapping someone called Rafie Mekkia, who was a teacher. He was actually kidnapped before he arrived at school and was then slaughtered in the al-Ghanam market area."
"I issued a fatwa for slaughtering someone called Karrar, who is the owner of a shop at al-Jamaa Market," Shehab continued. "He's Christian. I issued the fatwa because he didn't pay al-Jizya [ransom]. There was another operation related to the issue of a fatwa for slaughtering a woman informant. I gave my fatwa for slaughtering her, and she was executed. This is in addition to the slaughtering of two other women."
The second suspect, Ahmed Thannoun Qassim, a resident of al-Karrada area in Baghdad who works as a pharmacist at the Oncology Hospital, said he had joined al-Qaeda through Jaish al-Mujahedeen in September 2005.
"I joined the sniper platoon," Qassim said. "I was trained in sniper operations by trainers in the organization. I was asked to be the Sharia judge of the Islamic State of Iraq, and I accepted it in November 2008."
Qassim said that the first fatwa he issued was to kill the injured members of Iraqi police and army.
"They would be killed while at hospitals by people who were working as in those hospitals as employees."
"We got our funds through threats against the doctors and pharmacists who are known to us," Qassim added. "A number of them were kidnapped and we blackmailed their families for money."
"I was recruited by al-Qaeda organisation," said Azmy Darby, a Syrian national. "My mission was to transport bombs and vests of explosives from one area to another by dressing in women clothes to carry these bombs and vests."
"I carried four vests of explosives and two boxes of sticky bombs while wearing women's clothes. A woman used to help me put on the vests, and then I would transport them to another area," he said.
Hasan al-Rubaiy, a member of the Iraqi Parliament's Security and Defence Committee said that Iraqi security forces have started to take effective steps in fighting the Iraqi armed groups.
"Arresting the terrorists and criminals who are wanted by the judiciary comes as a result of joint efforts between the security institutions and through the exchange of information and high-level coordination," he said. "The Iraqi Parliament and the Security and Defence Committee played a major role in increasing the coordination and intensification of security efforts."
"The upcoming phase is a dangerous and sensitive one that requires full awareness on the part of the security agencies and citizens alike so that we may not give the enemies of Iraq the chance to disrupt security conditions with the aim of influencing the political process," he added.
Meanwhile, Al-Rasafa Criminal Court last Thursday handed down the death penalty to 11 people accused of carrying out the bombings in August of 2009 that targeted the ministries of finance and foreign affairs in Baghdad and killed or injured hundreds of victims.
Iraqi National Coalition member Taha Darie said that "the announcement of the arrest of those wanted terrorists will constitute a factor of security for Iraqi citizens, especially as there is an upcoming parliamentary election that requires the creation of a suitable security atmosphere to enable the citizens to take part in the election".
"The death penalties handed down by the Iraqi courts against those who are accused of bombings or killing Iraqis have restored hopes to everyone, to the effect that the criminals will receive their punishment, and that the security forces have achieved a lot in terms of putting an end to terrorist cells," Darie noted.