Sunday, September 03, 2006

Iraq Cites Arrest of a Top Local Insurgent

Positive news continues to flow out of Iraq -- AQ's #2 man is down:

BAGHDAD, Sept. 3 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured a top al-Qaeda in Iraq leader who ordered the bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra that triggered a wave of ferocious sectarian killings, Iraqi officials said Sunday.

The arrest of Hamed Jumaa Faris Juri al-Saeidi, described by Iraqi officials as the No. 2 leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was the latest in a series of blows to the Sunni Arab insurgent group, believed responsible for numerous suicide attacks on civilians and other deadly violence. The group's former leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed by U.S. forces in June and replaced by Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

"The al-Qaeda organization in Iraq has been seriously weakened and is now suffering from a leadership vacuum," Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said at a news conference. Twenty senior al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters have been captured or killed based on information from Saeidi since his arrest within the past few weeks, Iraqi officials said.

This man was responsible for the latest round of sectarian violence in Iraq. He was part of AQ's plan to drive a wedge through Iraqi populations. His capture has led to many arrests and will likely further limit AQ's operating effectiveness. This is a good thing.

I'd also like to point out that the raid was conducted and led by Iraqis, with Americans only providing support. The Iraqi security forces are slowly getting their sea-legs. As time passes they will only get stronger and more effective.

As Cap'n Ed puts it, "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." Amen.