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Monday, November 29, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Iraq captures Al Qaida cell said responsible for attack on church

BAGHDAD — Iraq has captured a major Al Qaida cell that targeted Christians.


Officials said Iraqi security forces have arrested an Al Qaida cell in Baghdad that had attacked a church nearly a month ago. They said the cell, consisting of 12 operatives, was led directly by the Al Qaida commander in Baghdad.

"The terrorists confessed to planning and executing the attack on the church," Maj. Gen. Ahmed Abu Regif, a senior Interior Ministry official, said.

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In a Nov. 27 briefing, Abu Regif said the detainees included the new Al Qaida commander of the Baghdad network, Middle East Newsline reported. The official quoted the suspects as saying that they participated in the Oct. 31 attack on a church in which 46 Christians were killed.

The AQI cell, captured in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Mansour, was also said to have attacked the Central Bank of Iraq as well as Al Arabiya satellite channel. In all, officials said they have identified about 20 attacks conducted by the detainees.

The Al Qaida chief in Baghdad was identified as Huthaifa Al Batawi, who represented the Islamic State of Iraq. Al Batawi was said to have replaced ISI commander Munaf Abdul Rahim Al Rawi, arrested in March 2010. Another detainee was identified as ISI commander Amr Al Najadi.

Officials said security forces also captured six tons of explosives and poison gas in the AQI strongholds. They said the explosives were meant for use in attacks over the next few months.

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