Golden Mosque Perps Reported in Custody
Iraq the Model reports that the bombers of the Golden Mosque have been arrested. Well at least one of them. The others have been gathered to their fathers.
In a news conference currently being broadcast on TV, Iraq's national security advisor Muwaffak al-Rubaie says Iraqi security forces arrested Abu Qudama al-Tunisi in a raid in the suburb of al-Dhuloiya north of Baghdad. 15 other foreign terrorists were killed in the raid according to al-Rubaie. ... Muwaffak al-Rubaie said the security forces are still searching for Haitham al-Badri who is believed to be the field commander under whom Abu Qudama was operating.
Al-Rubaie described Al-Badri is a terrorist with connections to elements in the past regime who later became one of the leaders of Ansar al-Sunna and later al-Qaeda organization in Iraq. ... 4 Saudis, two Iraqis and one Tunisian entered the mosque at night, handcuffed and locked up the guards in a room and spent the night planting the bombs all around the mosque. Next day they kidnapped and murdered Atwat Bahjat while she was trying to cover the news of the bombing.
That would make the perps fundamentally Sunni in character, for those who want to keep score that way. The Wikipedia entry on Ansar al-Sunna says it:
is an Islamist militant group in Iraq that fought the US-led occupation and US-backed interim government of Iyad Allawi, and continues to fight the new ruling government of Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The group is based in northern and central Iraq, and includes both Iraqi Kurdish and Sunni Arab religious radicals and possibly some foreign fighters. The group maintains close ties with the remnants of Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish Islamist organization formerly based in the mountains near Halabja in northeastern Iraq before the U.S-led invasion. U.S. officials believe that the group was founded in September of 2003 as an umbrella organization for Islamist guerrillas, with former members of Ansar al-Islam at its core. This date coincides with the first released message from the group stating their existence, on September 20. They claim to seek to expel U.S.-led occupation forces from Iraq and to subsequently establish an Islamic state. The group's leader has been identified Abu Abdullah al-Hassan bin Mahmoud, who is believed to be the brother of a major Ansar al-Islam fighter, although his background is unclear.
Ansar al-Sunna is thought to have links with other Islamist organizations operating in Iraq, including the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi backed Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (al-Qaeda in Iraq). In October 2004 Ansar al-Sunna released a video beheading of a Turkish truck driver on its website. The kidnappers on the video identified themselves as members of al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Source: MERIA). The United States and Iraqi Interim governments have reportedly linked Ansar al-Sunna to al-Qaeda.
Following the twin Sunni and Shiite uprisings of the spring and summer of 2004, and the subsequent decrease in U.S patrols and the creation of "no-go" areas in the Sunni Triangle, Ansar al-Sunna was believed to be part of a loose coalition of insurgent groups (also including guerrillas from Mohammad's Army and al-Tawhid wal-Jihad) controlling the Sunni cities of Fallujah, Ramadi, Samarra, and Baquba (U.S. offensives later largely wrested control from Baquba, Fallujah, and Samarra, although underground guerrilla forces still have a strong presence in those cities).
If Rubaie has got the right perps then this is a tremendous intelligence victory for the Coalition. Whatever cell was in charge of investigating the Golden Mosque incident never let this trail go until it finally led to this Baghdadi safehouse. Again it shows that the primary weapon of the Coalition isn't what is visible to the eye but rather that which goes unremarked. Intelligence operations followed by targeted raids. For that reason the war against intel unremittingly waged by institutions like the New York Times has its price. It has a cost. While it's true that there are always going to be valid concerns about the intrusive impact of intel operations, there is no way that crimes like the Golden Mosque attack can be solved without them. The question is always going to be how much we are willing to hamper the capability to catch heartless murderers in order to preserve the normalcy of our lives. Once the tradeoff is understood then the choices can be intelligently made.