December 20, 2007

Al-Qaeda Torture Center Discovered

American soldiers found another example of the bloodthirsty depravity of al-Qaeda in Iraq two weeks ago but have just now revealed its extent. In an operation to clear AQI from Muqdadiyah, US forces found a mass grave nearby a torture facility that nearby Iraqis said belonged to the terrorists. They also found some weapons left behind in AQI's haste to flee:

The grisly discoveries of the mass graves and torture center near Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, came during a Dec. 8-11 operation.

The torture center, which the U.S. military said it suspected was run by al-Qaida in Iraq, was found based on tips from Iraqis in the area, where the al-Qaida insurgents are very active. Graves containing 26 bodies were found nearby.

"We discovered several (weapons) caches, a torture facility that had chains, a bed - an iron bed that was still connected to a battery - knives and swords that were still covered in blood as we went in to go after the terrorists in that area," said Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, the top U.S. commander in northern Iraq.

Soldiers found a total of nine caches containing a surface-to-air missile launcher, sniper rifles, 130 pounds of homemade explosives and numerous mortar tubes and rounds, among other weapons.

Diyala remains troublesome. Many of the AQI terrorists driven from Baghdad and Anbar have wound up in this province, and they continue to cause trouble. Violence in Diyala has dropped between 40-50%, but that's not quite as sharply as the rest of the country. They may have no place left to run, and Diyala may take longer to pacify than Anbar and Baghdad.

This week, though, violence has dropped even more than normal. The Muslim holiday Eid has begun, and this year it seems that Iraqis will celebrate it with an informal cease-fire. The holiday may give some breathing space to those who remain violent, perhaps an opportunity to change approaches.

It could be that AQI has taught Iraqis a hard lesson in violence and depravity. Iraqis tipped the US to the torture center, where the terrorists indulged their every cruel whim in the name of radical Islam. They provide an extreme example of what happens with extended insurgencies, and the Iraqis want stability and quiet. They want the torture rooms closed -- and now they know who to call to accomplish that.


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