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Wednesday, November 18, 2009     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Captured Al Qaida agent was former official in Saddam's Baath Party

BAGHDAD — Iraq has captured a man described as a senior Al Qaida operative in northern Iraq.   

Officials said the Kurdistan Regional Government has arrested an Al Qaida operative accused of directing a series of improvised explosive device attacks in several provinces. They identified the detainee as Muthanna Hani Nasser, a former Baath Party official who became a key facilitator for the Al Qaida network.

"He was arrested in Suleimaniya over the weekend under a warrant," a KRG statement said on Nov. 14.

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Officials said Al Qaida as well as Saddam Hussein loyalists have sought to destabilize KRG, Middle East Newsline reported. They said Al Qaida has recruited Kurds and Arabs to conduct IED attacks against Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, particularly those around the disputed city of Kirkuk.

"The arrested terrorist is wanted by the Iraqi security forces and U.S. forces in Ramadi," the Suleimaniya security forces said.

Officials said Nasser posed as a worker in Suleimaniya. They said he was directed to conduct a series of strikes in the Kurdish city.

"He came to Suleimaniya on the pretext of work with a local company and he was intending to plan terrorist operations," the Suleimaniya statement said.

The U.S. Army has acknowledged the arrest of Nasser, 36, in an operation that included American soldiers. Officials said Nasser, captured on Nov. 9, had been wanted for Al Qaida strikes in Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province, long regarded as an Al Qaida stronghold.

A U.S. military statement asserted that Nasser was a key figure in Al Qaida. The statement said he was also linked to relaying funds for Sunni insurgency operations.

"The suspect has been linked to major explosive attacks throughout northern Iraq and has been connected to financing terrorist cells." the U.S. military said.

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