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Old 31 December 2009, 18:45
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US Releases Terrorist in Prisoner Swap

We will pay for this prisoner swap in blood



US releases ‘dangerous’ Iranian proxy behind the murder of US troops

By Bill RoggioDecember 31, 2009 12:57 AM


Qais and Laith Qazali.


The US has released the leader of an Iranian-backed Shia terror group behind the kidnapping and murder of five US soldiers in Karbala in January 2007.

Qais Qazali, the leader of the Asaib al Haq or the League of the Righteous, was set free by the US military and transferred to Iraqi custody in exchange for the release of British hostage Peter Moore, US military officers and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. The US military directly implicated Qais in the kidnapping and murder of five US soldiers in Karbala in January 2007.

“We let a very dangerous man go, a man whose hands are stained with US and Iraqi blood,” a military officer said. “We are going to pay for this in the future.”

The US military has maintained that the release of members and leaders of the League of the Righteous is related to a reconciliation agreement between the terror group and the Iraqi government, but some US military officers disagree.

“The official line is the release of Qazali is about reconciliation, but in reality this was a prisoner swap,” a military intelligence official said.

Moore and four members of his personal bodyguard were kidnapped at the Finance Ministry in Baghdad in May 2007 by a group that calls itself the Islamic Shia Resistance, which is in fact a front for the League of the Righteous. The group had always insisted that Qais, his brother Laith, and other members of the Asaib al Haq be released in exchange for Moore and the others. Three of Moore’s bodyguards were executed while in custody, and the fourth is thought to have been murdered as well.

“This was a deal signed and sealed in British and American blood,” a US military officer told The Long War Journal. “We freed all of their leaders and operatives; they [the League of the Righteous] executed their hostages and sent them back in body bags. And we’re supposed to be happy about it.”

As of mid-October, the US had released more than 100 members of the League of the Righteous. The US has also released several senior Qods Force officers, including Mahmud Farhadi, the leader of the Zafr Command, one of three units subordinate to the Qods Force's Ramazan Corps. Farhadi was among five Iranians turned over to the Iraqi government and then subsequently turned over to the Iranians in July.

The US has released the Iranian operatives and proxies despite rising tensions between Iraq and Iran. Iran is currently occupying Iraqi oil wells in Maysan province. Shia terror groups backed by Iran remain active in Iraq, and the Iraqi security forces continue to round up members of the Hezbollah Brigades, the Mahdi Army, the Promised Day Brigade, and the Special Groups. Iraqi security forces are also actively hunting for Qods Force agents who have entered Iraq.

Background on Qais Qazali

Qais Qazali was the commander of the League of the Righteous before US forces detained him and several other Shia terrorists in 2007. Qais commanded a large Mahdi Army faction and served as a spokesman and senior aide to Muqtada al Sadr. The terror group, which was part of the Mahdi Army until the spring of 2008, has received extensive financial and military support from Iran's Qods Force, the external division that backs Hezbollah and is tasked with supporting the Khomeinist Islamist revolution.

The League of the Righteous was directly implicated by General David Petraeus as being behind the January 2007 attack on the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala as well as other high-profile terror attacks in Iraq. Five US soldiers were killed during the Karbala attack and subsequent kidnapping attempt. The US soldiers were executed after US and Iraqi security forces closed in on the assault team.

The attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center was a complex, sophisticated operation. The assault team, led by tactical commander Azhar al Dulaimi, was trained in a mock-up of the center that was built in Iran. The unit had excellent intelligence and received equipment that made them appear to be US soldiers. Some of the members of the assault team are said to have spoken English.

The US military caught a break when it detained Laith and Qais and several other members of the network during a raid in Basrah in March 2007. Also detained during the raid was Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Hezbollah operative who was tasked by Iran to organize the Special Groups and "rogue" Mahdi Army cells along the lines of Lebanese Hezbollah. Daqduq is a 24-year veteran of Hezbollah, and he commanded both a Hezbollah special operations unit and the security detail of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Azhar al Dulaimi was killed in a raid in Baghdad in May 2007.

Background on Iranian activity in Iraq


Both the Iraqi government and the US military have said Iran has backed various Shia terror groups inside Iraq, including elements of the Mahdi Army. While the Iranian government has denied the charges, Iraqi and US forces have detained dozens of Iranian Qods Force officers and operatives, captured numerous Shia terrorist leaders under Iranian command, and found ample documentation as well as Iranian-made and Iranian-supplied weapons.

Since late 2006, US and Iraqi forces have captured and killed several high-level Qods Force officers inside Iraq. Among those captured were Mahmud Farhadi, one of the three Iranian regional commanders in the Ramazan Corps; Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative; and Qais Qazali, the leader of the Qazali Network, which is better known as the Asaib al Haq or the League of the Righteous. Azhar al Dulaimi, one of Qazali's senior tactical commanders, was killed in Iraq in early 2007.

Since mid-October 2008, Iraqi and US forces have killed one Qods Force operative and captured 17 during raids throughout southern and central Iraq.

Qods Force, the special operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has supported various Shia militias and terror groups inside Iraq, including the Mahdi Army. Qods Force helped to build the Mahdi Army along the same lines as Lebanese Hezbollah. Iran denies the charges, but captive Shia terrorists admit to having been recruited by Iranian agents and then transported into Iran for training.

Immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Iran established the Ramazan Corps to direct operations inside Iraq. The US military says that Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have helped establish, fund, train, arm, and provide operational support for Shia terror groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades and the League of the Righteous. The US military refers to these groups along with the Iranian-backed elements of the Mahdi Army as the "Special Groups." These groups train in camps inside Iran.

US military officers believe that Iran has been ramping up its operations inside Iraq since its surrogates suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Iraqi military during the spring and summer of 2008. Iraqi troops went on the offensive against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed terror groups in Baghdad, Basrah, and central and southern Iraq.

More than 2,000 Mahdi Army members were killed and thousands more were wounded. The operation forced Muqtada al Sadr to agree to a cease-fire, disband the Mahdi Army, and pull the Sadrist political party out of the provincial elections. Sadr's moves caused shock waves in the Mahdi Army, as some of the militia's leaders wished to continue the fight against US forces in Baghdad and in southern and central Iraq.

Iranian-backed Shia terror groups in Iraq

The League of the Righteous is a splinter group that broke away from Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army after Sadr announced he would disband the Mahdi Army and formed a small, secretive military arm to fight Coalition forces in June. The new group, called the Brigade of the Promised Day, has not been linked to any attacks since its formation last summer.

Sadr loyalist Qais Qazali was commander of the League of the Righteous up until his capture in 2007. The group is now said to be under the command of Akram al Kabi, a former Sadr loyalist.

The League of the Righteous receives funding, training, weapons, and direction from the Qods Force. The League of the Righteous conducts attacks with the deadly armor-piercing explosively formed projectiles known as EFPs, as well as with the more conventional roadside bombs.

The size of the League of the Righteous is unknown, but hundreds of members of the group were killed, captured, or fled to Iran during the Iraqi government offensive against the Mahdi Army from March to July of 2008, according to the US military.

Sadr is looking to pull the rank and file of the League back into the fold of the Sadr political movement. Earlier this year Sadr issued a message rejecting the US-Iraqi security agreement and said he "extends his hand to the mujahideen in the so-called Asaib but not their leaderships who have been distracted by politics and mortal life from the [two late] Sadrs and the interests of Iraq and Iraqis."

The Promised Day Brigade, the newest of the Iranian-backed groups, was formed by anti-American Shia leader Muqtada al Sadr during the summer of 2008 after he announced he would disband the Mahdi Army and formed a small, secretive military arm to fight Coalition forces in June. The group actively receives support from Iran, the US military told The Long War Journal.

"According to US and Iraqi intelligence sources, the Promised Day Brigades (PDB) terrorist organization is an Iranian-sponsored group actively targeting US Forces in attempt to disrupt security operations and further destabilize the nationalization process in Iraq," Lieutenant Todd Spitler, a Press Desk Officer at Multinational Forces Iraq, said.

The Hezbollah Brigades, or Kata'ib Hezbollah, has been active in and around Baghdad for more than a year. The terror group has increased its profile by conducting attacks against US and Iraqi forces, using the deadly explosively-formed penetrator land mines and improvised rocket-assisted mortars, which have been described as flying improvised explosive devices. The Hezbollah Brigades has posted videos of these attacks on the Internet.


The terror group is an offshoot of the Iranian-trained Special Groups, the US military said last summer. Hezbollah Brigades receives funding, training, logistics, guidance, and material support from the Qods Force.

Both the US military and the Iraqi military believe that the Special Groups are preparing to reinitiate fighting as their leaders and operatives are beginning to filter back into Iraq from Iran. On Feb. 4, Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin, the deputy commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, said that Iran continues to arm, fund, and train the Special Groups, and that munitions traced back to Iran continue to be uncovered in Iraq. Recent intelligence and the finds of new Iranian caches "lead us to believe that Iranian support activity is still ongoing," Austin warned.

In July 2009, General David Petraeus, the commanding officer of US Central Command, said during an interview at the World Affairs Council Global Leadership Series that Iran continues to back the Special Groups.

"There is no question that Iran continues to fund, train, equip, and direct to varying degrees some of the groups still active in Iraq," Petraeus said



Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archiv...#ixzz0bJ5Vlbcq
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Old 31 December 2009, 18:50
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So much for not negotiating with the bastards. Sigh.
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Old 31 December 2009, 18:57
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An Ambush in Karbala

By Mark Kukis

The five sport-utility vehicles sat abandoned in the darkness. A faint beeping sound signaled that their doors were open. Some of the Iraqi police who arrived at the scene initially feared going near the cars, thinking the sound meant they were rigged to explode. Finally a few ventured closer. In the back of two of the vehicles were the four Americans. One of them was alive, though barely. Handcuffed, he had been shot in the back of the head, but he was breathing. The other soldiers were already dead. One had taken bullets in both legs and his right hand, and at some point the kidnappers had torn open his body armor and fired bullets into his chest and torso. Two others were handcuffed together, with one's right hand joined to the other's left. Two shots in the face and neck had killed one. Four bullets in the chest had killed the other.

None of the soldiers had identification. The killers had taken everything from the men's pockets before fleeing the scene. In his last moments, one of the soldiers, a young lieutenant, realized his body might be unidentifiable when he was discovered. In the dust caked on one of the vehicles he managed to write his last name, Fritz, a final act before dying.

To many Americans, the Jan. 20 murder of four U.S. soldiers on a deserted road in southern Iraq might sound similar to countless other tragedies in a bloody, brutal war. There was a firefight, which killed another American; a brazen abduction; then a frantic chase leading to a heartless end. And yet from the start, the deaths of the five Americans were also shrouded in mystery. The attack took place in Karbala, a Shi'ite holy city of roughly 1 million people that had been one of the safest in Iraq for U.S. troops. It happened in plain sight of Iraqi police the Americans had been assigned to train. The killers wore U.S.-style uniforms, suggesting a catastrophic lapse of security --or the possibility that the enemy operation had actually been an inside job.

The military has struggled to affix responsibility for the Karbala murders. U.S. commanders have accused the Quds Force, a paramilitary organization run by members of Iran's security establishment, of being behind the operation. On July 2 in Baghdad, the military revealed it was holding Ali Musa Daqduq, a Lebanese national who was captured in Basra in March. He is a senior operative of Hizballah (the Lebanese Shi'ite militia supported by the Quds Force), and officials say he has admitted to involvement in the attack.

U.S. officials, who met their Iranian counterparts in Baghdad on July 24, have used the Karbala killings as evidence that Iran is sponsoring attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. But the full story of what happened that night may be even more tangled and disturbing, raising questions about the loyalties of some of the Iraqis whom U.S. troops are risking their lives to protect and support. An internal Army investigation into the attack reviewed by TIME, in addition to interviews with U.S. and Iraqi witnesses, suggest that the abduction and murders were carried out with the knowledge and complicity of Iraqi Shi'ite police who only hours earlier had been working alongside U.S. soldiers--and may have involved local officials loyal to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Karbala incident highlights the dilemmas facing the U.S. as it weighs whether and how to redeploy its troops from the front lines of the war. In some cases, the Iraqi security forces being trained and equipped by the U.S. retain ties to anti-American militia who could turn on U.S. troops as they depart. (On July 13, U.S. troops killed six Iraqi police in a raid targeting a rogue police commander.)

That's particularly unnerving given the military's push to embed more U.S. troops with Iraqi units. In Baghdad today, U.S. and Iraqi forces serve together in 65 combat outposts, up from 10 in February. But U.S. troops never went back to work with the Iraqis in Karbala, where the trust and friendships forged over many months ended in one night of betrayal and murder.

Most of the soldiers from Forward Operating Base Iskan, just south of Baghdad, liked the missions to Karbala. It was a chance "to get away from the flagpole" and all the bureaucracy of life back at the main base. In Karbala, roughly 30 men were on their own for a week or so at a time, staying at the city's governance center, where the police headquarters sat next to the governor's office. The two-hour drive from Iskandariyah could be nerve-racking as they eyed the edges of the route for roadside bombs. But once at the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center, life was simple and good in the way soldiers like.

Much of the unit had come together in the early months of 2006 at Fort Richardson, an Army base just outside Anchorage, Alaska. Jacob Fritz had graduated from West Point in 2005. Built like a football lineman, Fritz had grown up a Nebraskan farm boy in the town of Verdon, where his graduating class in high school had only 11 students. At West Point, Fritz earned the nickname "Jolly Jake" for his perpetual smile. The soldiers from Fort Richardson grew to like Fritz too. He had the kind of résumé you see among the young élite of the Army's officer corps. But early on, the enlisted men considered Fritz one of their own.

Johnathan Chism was a young Army specialist with a thick accent from his native Baton Rouge, La. The other guys called him "Gator," and Chism listed his ethnicity on MySpace as Redneck/ Southern. Johnathon Millican, 20, a private from Alabama, also spoke in a thick Southern accent and was the unit's resident comedian. Private Shawn Falter was from upstate New York and enlisted in the military in 2005, following three older brothers who served in the Army and the Marines. He liked country music. On the weekend before he deployed to Iraq in 2006, Falter was out with Staff Sergeant Billy Wallace and some others, singing karaoke. For his turn at the microphone, Falter sang the words to the Tracy Lawrence ballad If I Don't Make It Back.

In Karbala, Fritz led some of the missions on his own. At other times, Captain Brian Freeman took the lead. Freeman was, in essence, the chief U.S. liaison to Iraqi officials in Karbala, including Governor Akil Mahmood Khareem and police chief Mohammed Muhsin Zeidan al-Quraishy. At 31, Freeman was older than most of the other troops. He had graduated from West Point in 1999, served his obligatory five years of active duty and then settled into civilian life in Temecula, Calif., where he had a wife, a year-old son and another child on the way. Freeman had left active duty but remained a member of the Individual Ready Reserve Unit, which keeps a number of trained soldiers ready to call for deployment if needed.

By late 2006, Freeman's work in Karbala seemed to be going well. The U.S. planned to leave the center entirely in the hands of the Iraqis by the spring of 2007. But Freeman was uneasy about the job . He was an armor officer, more used to dealing with tanks and cannons than Iraqi politicians. Yet in Karbala he was a civil-affairs official, doing work he felt was more for a diplomat than a soldier. Shortly before Christmas 2006, Freeman took a short leave to visit his family in California, making his way to Baghdad for a helicopter flight on the first leg of the journey. At Landing Zone Washington, the main helipad inside the Green Zone, Freeman spotted Senators John Kerry and Christopher Dodd, who were on a visit to Iraq. He introduced himself and began voicing some of his concerns. Freeman kept in touch with Dodd after they parted in Baghdad, reiterating his thoughts in an e-mail. "Senator, it's nuts over here," Freeman wrote. "Soldiers are being asked to do work we're not trained to do. I'm doing work that the State Department people are far more trained to do in fostering diplomacy. But they're not allowed to come off the bases because it's too dangerous here. It doesn't make any sense."

Freeman felt certain that the Iraqis he and his soldiers were supposed to be helping did not want them there. He and other troops suspected some of the police were members of the Mahdi Army, the militia of radical anti-American Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. That's not unusual, given that the largely Shi'ite personnel of Iraq's Ministry of Interior have long been seen as a de facto wing of the Mahdi Army. National police are suspected of taking part in the militia's sectarian killings in Baghdad. And in southern Iraq, where al-Sadr is powerful, infiltration of U.S.-trained Iraqi units is common. But even the wariest Americans have trouble believing that Iraqis who look them in the face each day could muster the audacity to try to kill them.

By early this year, Freeman was beginning to question the assignment. He was having trouble sleeping during his stays in Karbala. When he returned from leave in January, he asked his commanding officers if he could skip the Karbala mission heading out Jan. 14. He suggested doing some other long-term projects at the main base. Not doable, Freeman was told. The mission was heading out as scheduled, with him in command.

Many soldiers sensed a changed mood when they arrived at the Iraqi police headquarters in Karbala on Jan. 14. Some of the Iraqis the soldiers had been working with since the fall seemed unusually tense. One Iraqi police officer heckled some soldiers at the back gate in broken English, saying "U.S.A. bad, Iraq good" before throwing bread at them. Another aired an ominous warning. "Tomorrow," he said to soldiers standing guard outside, pounding a fist into his palm. "Tomorrow."

On Jan. 20, all except the guards posted at the back and front gates were at rest in the barracks area of the concrete headquarters building, where troops were scattered across two floors. At about 6 p.m., just as the sun was setting, a series of shots rang out, sounding much closer than the occasional gunfire heard in the area. Then two huge booms shook the ground from the inside. The soldiers scrambled into their armor and reached for their weapons. On the first floor of the main building, Wallace saw the door to the room he shared with Millican and three other soldiers open from the outside. Sergeant First Class Sean Bennett instinctively slammed it shut with his right shoulder. But the attacker in the hall still managed to cram the muzzle of an AK-47 into the doorjamb and let fly a stream of bullets. "The guy just opened up," says Wallace, who threw his left side against the door as the firing continued. "He started blasting all over the room the best he could."

Somewhere in the struggle, a grenade bounced into the room. Millican dived, catching bullets in his body as he went down and absorbed the explosion. He had been chatting online with his wife Shannon when the fighting broke out. A minute later, he was dead.

The explosions blew open an adjacent room where Freeman and Fritz worked. Then the door to Wallace's room flung open once more. Wallace looked up to see a man in the same desert-camouflage fatigues normally worn by Iraqi army soldiers; he was standing 2 ft. from him and taking aim with an AK-47. Wallace and Bennett threw their shoulders back into the door. The barrel caught in the crack a second time, and more bullets crashed around the side of the room. Seconds later, a massive explosion in the hall disintegrated the door around Wallace and Bennett, who was left badly wounded along with another soldier in the room, Jesse Hernandez.

More blasts outside sent flames and smoke coursing through the darkening courtyard, where Falter and Chism had been standing guard. One of the humvees parked there was ablaze, and rounds from the turret gun began cooking off as the attackers rushed away.

As the troops tended to their wounded and waited for rescue helicopters to arrive, they realized Freeman, Fritz, Chism and Falter were missing. The attack had lasted just five minutes.

How did the attackers breach the base's security? A report from the military's investigation of the incident, a copy of which was obtained by TIME, says a convoy of eight sport-utility vehicles arrived at the outer gates of the complex shortly before the shooting started. The vehicles included a tan Suburban, a white Land Cruiser and a black Yukon. Inside the vehicles were at least eight men who wore American-style helmets and safety glasses, as well as some men wearing hoods in the way Iraqi interpreters working with U.S. forces sometimes do. According to the report, the Iraqi guards at the outer checkpoints put up no fight when the visitors ordered them, in English, to lay down their weapons and step aside.

Lieut. Nathan Diaz was in an upstairs room of the police headquarters with 18 other soldiers as the clash began. Like most of the other troops, Diaz initially thought the explosions were incoming mortars or rockets fired from insurgents outside the base. Diaz moved to the roof along with other soldiers and began shooting out lights around the courtyard so the troops would be harder to see if snipers were about. Diaz peered over the ledge into the courtyard just in time to see a humvee explode, sending up a shock wave that knocked him onto his back. Diaz and the other soldiers then decided to clear the roof, still thinking mortars were falling. Going downstairs, Diaz moved along the hall on the second floor where the police chief, al-Quraishy, and his two deputies, Ra'aid Shaker and Majed Hanoon, kept their offices. Soldiers called the chief's squad of personal bodyguards the "commandos." If there were any sign of trouble, the commandos would typically respond before the Iraqi police. But this time they barely moved as Diaz and other Americans rushed by. "I didn't really think much of it at the time, but very soon after, that became very strange," says Diaz, who came to believe that whoever was attacking the center had help from the inside.

After rescue helicopters had carried away Millican and three other wounded, Diaz confronted al-Quraishy, Shaker and Hanoon. How could this have happened? Al-Quraishy was supposed to be one of the best commanders the Iraqi security forces had. Nicknamed "the Wolf," he made a name for himself in Mosul in 2004 and '05, often appearing on an Iraqi true-crime television show called In the Hands of Justice, chasing down and personally interrogating militants. The Americans hoped al-Quraishy, who took over leadership of the Karbala police in the fall of 2006, could stand up to the Mahdi Army in southern Iraq. But Diaz and others believed that, at the least, some of al-Quraishy's police had let the Jan. 20 attackers into the main building without offering any resistance. During the fighting inside, none of the Iraqi police or the commandos did anything to help the Americans. "No one was shot," says Sergeant First Class Michael King, describing the Iraqi police immediately after the attack. "No one twisted an ankle. No one jammed a thumb. Nothing." Al-Quraishy was apologetic but offered no explanation. "You really can't tell with that guy," Diaz says.

"Either he was sincere, or he's a great actor. It's really almost impossible to interpret."

The Karbala attack came days after the U.S.'s Jan. 11 arrest of five alleged Iranian operatives in Irbil, in northern Iraq. Military officials have theorized that the Karbala attack was orchestrated by Tehran in retaliation. But the U.S.'s initial probe of the incident found no evidence of direct Iranian involvement. Instead, the picture that emerged cast suspicion chiefly on senior Iraqi officials known to the Americans, as well as local thugs and associates of al-Sadr. The report on the investigation, which has been released only to the families of the soldiers who were killed, found that "it is too coincidental that the attackers, already argued as outside professionals, knew and raided only the two rooms where the Americans resided and were able to isolate the barracks-area soldiers and rooftop defenders." The report adds that many Iraqi police seemed to disappear moments before the assault and that the attackers seemed to know that the Americans would initially go to the rooftops during an attack, a drill U.S. troops had practiced in front of the senior Iraqi officers.

One source of dispute is whether the attackers were wearing U.S. uniforms, which Iraqi police claimed is the reason they didn't shoot. The man Wallace saw, however, was dressed in Iraqi army fatigues, which are sometimes worn by Iraqi police as well. "This all suggests that someone provided more than just a layout of the compound and knowledge of the Coalition Forces' battle drill," the report says. "It appears an inside assault force was pre-staged."

Since Jan. 20, the military has begun to identify militants thought to have taken part in the attack. On March 22, the U.S. military announced the arrest of Qais Khazali and his brother Laith, saying the two were apprehended in Basra and Hillah for allegedly playing a role in the Karbala attack. Khazali was a protégé of al-Sadr's in 2004 and '05, but his relationship to al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army is unclear these days.

Investigators who questioned Khazali say he was working closely with the Iran-backed Quds Force before his capture and was leading a group of Shi'ite militants who trained in Iran. Khazali had traveled frequently to Iran for what appears to be weapons smuggling, U.S. military officials in Baghdad said. In May, U.S. forces killed Sheik Azhar al-Dulaimi after cornering him on a rooftop in Baghdad's Sadr City; investigators say they uncovered forensic evidence that shows al-Dulaimi was among the men who abandoned the vehicles used in the operation. On July 2 in Baghdad, the military revealed the capture of Ali Musa Daqduq, the purported Hizballah operative. "Both Ali Musa Daqduq and Qais Khazali state that senior leadership within the Quds Force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers," says Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

But is that the full story? The gunmen who arrived at the Karbala center were obviously skilled guerrillas, and it is certainly possible that some among them had come from as far away as Lebanon or Iran. But that does not explain whether any of the Iraqi officers at the center knew the killers were coming or whether any joined the attack or helped the kidnappers get away. The Americans interviewed by TIME say at least some Iraqi police at the center were involved, and the conclusions of the military investigation support that view. But neither U.S. nor Iraqi authorities have brought charges against any Iraqi police present at the time of the ambush.

Questions also remain about whether Iraqi politicians had prior knowledge of the attack. Lieut. Colonel Robert Balcavage, ground commander of U.S. forces operating in Karbala and surrounding areas, says Khareem, the governor of Karbala, knew many details very soon after the attack that night, which made Balcavage wonder if he knew of the operation beforehand. The Army investigation cites unconfirmed reports of calls from the governor's office to the outer checkpoints as the attackers were approaching, with orders to let them pass. In an interview, Khareem denied any wrongdoing. "To accuse me of involvement in this attack is to slight me," Khareem says. "Before anybody accuses me, they should have solid evidence. No charges have been brought against me, by any Iraqi or by the American side, so there's nothing to discuss."

Two investigators who worked on the case say there is enough evidence against the governor and others at the Karbala center to fill an indictment that would pass muster in a U.S. court. A female member of the Iraqi parliament from Babil province, Majada Discher, is suspected of involvement too. One of the vehicles used by the attackers was registered to her, and investigators say forensic evidence shows that one of her bodyguards was among the killers. In Karbala, Army investigators drew up two lists of suspects. The first list, comprising about 40 names, read like a Who's Who of local Shi'ite militants, mostly from the Mahdi Army. The second list has roughly 10 names of people the investigators dubbed "untouchables." These were people thought to be involved in the plot one way or another but considered too prominent to arrest or target, investigators said. Discher made the untouchables list, as did the governor, al-Quraishy, Shaker and Hanoon.

Though Balcavage feels that arrests are in order, the case has stalled. Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, who was a senior commander for southern Iraq at the time of the attack, says several Iraqi government officials remain under suspicion. "We haven't given up on this at all," he says. But Balcavage says political calculations can sometimes override the quest for justice. Removing a suspect police chief, for instance, could undo progress made in building up security forces and destabilize the local political leadership. "There's always second- and third-order effects for every action," Balcavage says. "The challenge is that you're working with a government you want to see succeed. But our values and the values of certain members of the government are not necessarily consistent. Our idea of good and their idea of good are not always the same."

As a result, working with Iraqi security forces and their leaders is becoming increasingly hazardous for many Americans in Iraq. Diaz, for example, sometimes still works with Hanoon, who was heard laughing into his cell phone the night of the Karbala attack. Hanoon is now the police chief of Iskandariyah. Diaz says his soldiers assume that Mahdi Army operatives are in their midst whenever they visit Hanoon, who works not far from the U.S. base at which pictures of the five Americans hang on a wall dedicated to the fallen.

When Iraqi authorities discovered the abandoned vehicles on the night of Jan. 20, Freeman was the soldier clinging to life. For a moment before the Americans finally arrived, the Iraqis thought Freeman might still have a chance. They could have waited for U.S. soldiers to come, but Freeman needed care immediately. So the Iraqis acted on their own. They pulled Freeman from the back of the vehicle and loaded him into an ambulance. An Iraqi army soldier administered CPR until a medic could give him oxygen as they rushed to the nearest hospital in Hillah. But Freeman's wound was too severe, and he died along the way.

"I would like to tell the family that we tried to help him so that he would live," the Iraqi soldier later told U.S. investigators who took a statement from him. "We are very sorry that he died. We treated him as if he was our own."
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Old 31 December 2009, 19:07
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So the new administration negotiates with terrorists, wonder if those who are critical of the IRAN/Contra "gate" scandal will be as critical here?
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Old 31 December 2009, 19:30
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Qais, himself, is about as dangerous as MAS, himself. Both fancy themselves 'leaders' of 'movements'. Does anyone think that Qais was leaning over a sand table during the dry run of the Karbala op saying, "Ok, red team you go here, blue team here and then start grabbing prisoners."

I'm glad Mr. Moore is home. I look forward to MAS and Qais duking it out for leadership of the Shia until the time that both wind up dead because, well, that is what happens. Fuck the Q brothers, but more to the point, fuck IRGC-QF. That is the organization most culpable for the attack at the PJCC.
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Old 31 December 2009, 19:32
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I bet he's still a good target... I'm just saying... he's probably at his house right now.
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Old 31 December 2009, 19:35
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Originally Posted by GackMan View Post
I bet he's still a good target... could just kill him now.
The guards shouted one word as he walked out: PULL!
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Old 1 January 2010, 13:16
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This shit makes me ill.

I strongly doubt that the US government has the minerals to do what needs to be done.
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Old 1 January 2010, 14:24
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...there is no more terrorism.

The DHS has clearly labeled thses as "man caused disasters"

...as such we still do not negotiate with terrorists:
...we simply "avert disaster"
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Old 1 January 2010, 14:42
Abu Khalil Abu Khalil is offline
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Been There...

...Done That.

Common knowledge who'd done "what". One of the conditions to operate under. Want to dance with the Piper, must be prepared to pay for the music. If not, don't follow the music. cdl
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Old 7 February 2010, 03:04
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Well... we can file that away under strategies that suck...

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archiv...ked_shia_t.php
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Old 7 February 2010, 15:57
Dino0311 Dino0311 is offline
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Fucking great.
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Old 7 February 2010, 17:51
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Fucking great.
+1
Yep. Just Awesome...
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Old 7 February 2010, 21:03
Marina Marina is offline
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Iraqi Insurgents Capture HTT Contractor Issa Salomi

The American hostage taken last month was part of the controversial HTT program.

http://www.phibetaiota.net/?p=22719

Steve Fondacaro and Montgomery Clough, senior program management of the US Army's Human Terrain System (HTS), were warned as early as 2007 that Human Terrain Team members in Iraq and Afghanistan would become prey for insurgent groups. They were advised repeatedly that training must emphasize the dangerous environment HTS employees would be operating in. That training needed to focus on practices and procedures for handling life threatening situations to include kidnapping.

Issa Salomi, a 60 year old HTT member operating in a combat zone, was taken in January 2010 by an Iraqi insurgent group and a video of him was released on the Net in February 2010 by the same group. This tragic event drives home, once again, the core failings of the Human Terrain Team System: the inability to find qualified personnel, to train them properly and to, quite simply, take care of them. Some allege that many team leaders and HTS management itself have no clue where many of their teams are. "Some HTT members disappear for days and then return."

"They will tell you they are addressing this in the curriculum redesign but it's too little too late. The students currently in training are not been thoroughly briefed on the situation on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan . There does not appear to be any attempt to implement anything in training regarding kidnapping. This is criminally negligent," said observers.

Observers also indicate that those in charge of revising the HTS curriculum and training new batches of HTS students are not qualified to do so as their expertise is in private sector organizational behavior. Some have had no military or field experience and, what's more, hardly understand the US military culture they are embedded in. Yet they are offered contracts that extend, in some cases, close to one month at $1200 per day. Some allege that conflicts of interests abound within HTS with one of them centered around the outlay of $2 million to a group called Cornerstone.
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Old 28 March 2010, 18:47
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Good news is Mr Salomi is free.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/mi...971291811.html

Bad news, you can start the clock for them to do it again. We keep rewarding them for kidnapping... seems to be a great tactic that we love to play along with.
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Old 28 March 2010, 18:59
armyscout33 armyscout33 is offline
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If I wasn't already military, this would make me want to run right out and join up knowing how much this administration has your back. Let some shitbag kill 5 of your friends, then turn the fucker loose. Maybe next time we'll just kill him first.
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Old 28 March 2010, 19:39
8Ball 8Ball is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armyscout33 View Post
Maybe next time we'll just kill him first.
That is the correct answer.
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Old 29 March 2010, 04:00
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Missing from the article is who negotiated the release of Qais Qazali.
Was it the administration? the military? the Iraqi government?
I would like to know whose decision this was.
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  #19  
Old 6 April 2010, 03:58
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People are still taking prisoners?
S/F....Ken M

PS: That's sarcasm for all the humorless out there
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Old 6 April 2010, 23:27
GreenTip556 GreenTip556 is offline
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It would seem that maybe they shouldn't have done this so openly in the news. Won't that set a precedent for others who try to do the same thing? It seems like it would increase the number of hostages taken AND let guilty men go free. Is there really a win here? I'm not trying to be disrespectful, I just wish I understood these things better....

Very Respectfully,

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