Iraqi forces arrested 23 suspected terrorists in Baghdad and Ramadi and dismantled three car bombs set to target the Ministry of Planning, the University of Baghdad and local media institutions, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced Wednesday (December 1st).
The arrests were made in two separate operations carried out Tuesday morning. Iraqi security officials said the detainees include al-Qaeda members, including key ministers in the al-Qaeda front organisation, the Islamic State of Iraq.
Maj. Gen. Nuaman Dakhil, commander of the Rapid Intervention Forces in the Ministry of Interior, said the ministry received intelligence about the whereabouts of the suspects. After verifying the information, task forces from the ministry launched a ground attack on a residential building supported by helicopters in the area of al-Taji, north of Baghdad.
"The operation led to the arrest of Yas Shallal, a minister of the so-called al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq," Dakhil told Mawtani.com "He was in charge of recruiting Arab and foreign militants for al-Qaeda and bringing them from outside Iraq to the country."
Iraqi forces also arrested four of Shallal's aides in the same house.
Meanwhile, Col. Muhsin al-Jawad of the Ministry of Interior's SWAT forces said Iraqi security forces raided a residential building in Ramadi with support from US forces.
"Iraqi forces managed within 20 minutes to control the building which is located south of Ramadi and to arrest Hazim Abdul Razzaq al-Rawi, a cousin of al-Qaeda leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi," al-Jawad said. "The detainee is the security minister in the Islamic State of Iraq organisation."
"Al-Rawi confessed to having contacts via email messages with the current emir of the Islamic State of Iraq in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi," al-Jawad said. "He also confessed to the whereabouts of the cells that he is leading, the work of al-Qaeda emirs and the nature of their movements, as well as about the nature of his work as the so-called security minister in the Islamic State of Iraq."
Al-Jawad added that al-Rawi confessed to the whereabouts of 41 individuals who he said were working indirectly with al-Qaeda, and that Iraqi forces arrested 15 of them within a few hours after al-Rawi's confessions.
Maj. Gen. Ahmed Abu Ragheef, director of internal affairs and security in the Ministry of Interior, said a special force from the ministry foiled several attacks using car bombs and improvised explosive devices on the Iraqi Ministry of Planning in Karradat Meriam area, the University of Baghdad and a number of local Iraqi media institutions.
"Thwarting the attacks al-Qaeda was preparing to carry out came following the arrest of the so-called wali of Baghdad and his aides a few days ago," Abu Ragheef said. "During the investigation, they revealed the locations of these car bombs that were hidden in areas near the sites of the Ministry of Planning, University of Baghdad and Iraqi media institutions."
Iraqi forces arrested two individuals suspected of preparing to carry out suicide attacks. They also dismantled the three car bombs.
Lt. Col. Bassil Hameed of the Federal Police said the security operations carried out by Iraqi forces in the past few days have also led to the discovery of 1,300 kilograms of explosives.
"These explosives are sufficient to destroy a whole residential neighbourhood and to kill hundreds of Iraqis," Hameed said. "However, they are now in the hands of security forces and were moved to a safe place to destroy them."