[On Tuesday, at least 32 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew
himself up at the funeral of an Iraqi senior officer in Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported. The officer
had been killed in a car bombing on Dec. 28.]
Khalaf attributed the erosion of the Al Qaida network to an improvement
in Iraqi intelligence and military. He said 70 percent of Al Qaida
operations were foiled over the last year.
Officials said the reduction in Al Qaida operations led to a drop in
abductions and killings throughout Iraq. They also attributed the reduction
to increased Iraqi security cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Syria in 2007.
Abductions have declined by 70 percent in 2007, officials said. They
said the daily killings in Baghdad were reduced from up to 20 in February
2007 to as little as three in December.
"Their activity is now limited to certain places north of Baghdad,"
Khalaf said. "We're working on pursuing those groups, that is the coming
Khalaf said the new auxiliary police force has helped penetrate Al Qaida
cells. He said Sunni volunteers recruited by the Interior Ministry were
identifying Al Qaida operatives in neighborhoods in Baghdad and other major
On Dec. 29, a leading Al Qaida insurgent, Ahmed Turki Abbas, identified
as the self-styled defense minister of the Al Qaida-aligned Islamic State of
Iraq, was captured. Abbas was arrested near Mahmoudiya, about 35 kilometers
south of Baghdad.
"After eliminating safe houses in Anbar province, which used to be Al
Qaida's base, we moved into areas surrounding Baghdad and into Diyala
province," Khalaf said. "Al Qaida headed north and we are pursuing them."