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November 18, 2004
More Progress In Iraq

Two breaking stories demonstrate the level of success that the combined Iraqi-American forces have achieved in their pacification mission throughout the Sunni Triangle. First, US troops in Fallujah have found the base of operations used by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his al-Qaeda group:

U.S. troops sweeping through Fallujah on Thursday said they believe they have found the main headquarters of the insurgent group headed by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In video shot by an embedded CNN cameraman, soldiers walked through an imposing building with concrete columns and with a large sign in Arabic on the wall reading "Al Qaida Organization" and "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger."

Inside the building, U.S. soldiers found documents, old computers, notebooks, photographs and copies of the Quran.

The terrorists apparently left so quickly that they had to leave their documentation behind, which may allow the Coalition forces many opportunities to identify and neutralize other AQ assets in the region. Normally, intelligence is destroyed prior to abandoning a position, and the fact that this didn't happen at AQ-HQ in Fallujah either means that the onslaught came much more quickly than the terrorists' preparations, or they simply don't know any better. Either way, the oversight in leaving that information behind will likely haunt the Islamist lunatics fleeing Fallujah.

In fact, it could have led to this:

U.S. and Iraqi forces swept Thursday through an insurgent neighborhood in central Baghdad, arresting 104 suspected guerrillas, the Interior Ministry spokesman said. Nine of those arrested were believed to have fled from Fallujah, where U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major offensive against rebels on Nov. 8.

Most of the arrested were Iraqis, but some came from Syria and Arabs of other nations. The capture of so many at one time also indicates a level of surprise -- which demonstrates that the Americans and the Iraqi government have the momentum and a fair bit of very recent intelligence. Underground insurgencies rarely put that many of their members together at a single point, and it almost sounds like Coalition command received a tip about a meeting.

I would not be surprised if the material found in AQ-HQ leads to more such captures in the next few days.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports that the military doesn't think this was Zarqawi's hideout, but also says that several such bases have been discovered:

Several command and control centers operated by insurgents have been discovered in Falluja, a top Marine officer said today, but he denied reports that one of them was the headquarters of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

A great amount of intelligence material was recovered at the centers, including computers and ledgers listing fighters, the officer, Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said at a briefing outside Falluja, west of Baghdad.

As I said, expect to see that intelligence used in the next few days to gather up a number of terrorists throughout the Sunni Triangle. These dicoveries have a habit of cascading outwards exponentially.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 18, 2004 12:36 PM

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» This is some good news from Pirate's Cove
U.S. troops sweeping through Fallujah say they may have found the main headquarters of terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Lt. Gen. John Sattler said that isn't certain, but he said a number of [Read More]

Tracked on November 18, 2004 6:21 PM

» Daily Dish from The Cool Blue Blog
Given the narrative that the Axis of Bias has developed regarding Fallujah, it is difficult to discern what is actually going on there. Fortunately, some take the time to piece together the real story. It takes a Sufi, I guess. [Read More]

Tracked on November 19, 2004 6:53 AM

» Zarqawi's headquarters found from Media Lies
Information coming out of Fallujah indicates that valuable intel about Zarqawi has been found. As a result, one of his top men was arrested in Baghdad with a number of associates. Zarqawi's headquarters has been found as well as a recording studio wh... [Read More]

Tracked on November 19, 2004 10:48 PM

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