Iraqi firefighters extinguish a fire following a blast in Baghdad targetting police in March
Iraqi firefighters extinguish a fire following a blast in Baghdad targetting police in March 2011. Iraqi security forces have smashed an Al-Qaeda network allegedly responsible for more than 100 killings in Baghdad, an anti-terrorism official said on Sunday. © Khalil al-Murshidi - AFP/File
Iraqi firefighters extinguish a fire following a blast in Baghdad targetting police in March
AFP
Last updated: July 24, 2011

Qaeda cell in Baghdad smashed

Iraqi security forces have smashed an Al-Qaeda network allegedly responsible for more than 100 killings in Baghdad, an anti-terrorism official said on Sunday.

"Interior ministry forces dismantled (an) Al-Qaeda network that was responsible for more than 100 murders of policemen, soldiers, judges, officials and jewellers in Baghdad," said Major General Ahmed Abu Raghif, head of an anti-terrorism police unit.

The cell was also behind the May 26 assassination of Ali al-Lami, head of the Justice and Accountability Commission which investigates issues relating to the former regime of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, he said.

The group was responsible for a failed May 8 prison escape at an interior ministry detention centre in Baghdad which resulted in the deaths of 11 Al-Qaeda militants and six police, the official added.

That mutiny was triggered by Huthaifa al-Batawi, suspected of masterminding an October 31 Al-Qaeda raid on a Baghdad church in which 44 worshippers, two priests and seven members of the security forces were killed.

Abu Raghif said the network consisted of 16 militants and had been led by Wissam Yasin Alwan -- also known as Abu Samir -- who committed suicide last week when police tried to arrest him in central Baghdad's Baab al-Muadham district.

The network also included Yusef Salman Khazaer, a mufti or Islamic teacher responsible for the group's religious education. His role was also to carry arms and ammunition to the scene of attacks.

"To escape police vigilance, he was always accompanied by his wife and children," Abu Raghif added.

The Al-Qaeda network also included a traffic police officer, whose role was to pass on information about licence plates of official vehicles, the general said.

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