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September 3, 2006
AQ #2 In Iraq Busted

Iraqi forces working independently captured al-Qaeda in Iraq's second in command this week, the Iraqi national-security minister announced this morning. Hamed Jumaa Faris Juri al-Saaydi and twenty of his closest friends found themselves in custody after a raid in Baqubah:

"We now think al-Qaeda in Iraq is suffering a great deal and disintegrating," [Mowaffak al-] Rubaie said in a news conference at the U.S.-controlled Green Zone that was broadcast live across the Middle East. "The al-Qaeda organization is suffering from a leadership crisis."

Saaydi, also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, ordered the February attack on the golden-domed Shiite shrine in Samara that ignited the ongoing ferocious wave of sectarian killings, Rubaie said. He accused Saaydi of trying to spark a civil war between Iraq's Sunnis and Shiite Muslims.

Rubaie said Iraqi forces had been tracking Saaydi's movements since the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the No. 1 leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, three months ago. Saaydi was hiding inside a home surrounded by women and children whom he was using as a "human shield," Rubaie said.

American forces provided support for the operation, but the raid apparently was conducted and led by the Iraqis. The city of Baqubah has been known for its terrorist infiltration, and this raid suggests that the Iraqis have begun to break the AQ grip on the region. It also demonstrates the increasing effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces.

The AQ organization will continue its efforts, of course, but the capture of the man who targeted the Golden Mosque in Samara may take a lot of the sting out of the sectarian bitterness that erupted afterwards. It's another step towards peace and security -- not the final step nor even close to it, but another step in the right direction.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 3, 2006 8:15 AM

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» Capture Al Qaeda In Iraq's #2 Leads To Dozens Other Successes from Liberty and Justice
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» Iraqi Forces Capture #2 Al-Qaeda Leader from Right Voices
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