U.S. troops rounded up 49 suspected guerrillas near Saddam Hussein’s hometown on Friday, a day after Iraq’s most violent rebel groups warned voters against taking part in crucial elections for a constitutional assembly on Jan. 30.
Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division detained the suspects during a midnight raid in Duluiyah, 45 miles north of Baghdad, codenamed Operation Powder River, the U.S. military said.
The US and Iraqi forces withheld notice of Abu Marwan’s capure for six days, a normal procedure that allows for confusion and surprise when dealing with terrorist networks. It also allows for American intelligence agents to interrogate the detainees. The two events may not be connected, but the coincidence certainly appears provocative.