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Tuesday, May 10, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Iraqi Al Qaida leader killed in jailbreak shootout

BAGHDAD — A leading Al Qaida commander has been killed in Iraq.


Officials said a senior member of Al Qaida in Iraq has been killed in a jailbreak attempt that was attributed to negligence by security forces. The commander was identified as Huthaifa Al Batawi, deemed AQI's emir of Baghdad, a leading member in the insurgency network.

"Security forces and guards rushed to the jail of the counter-terrorism department and killed 11 terrorist prisoners, including Huthaifa Al Batawi," Baghdad security spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta said.

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Al Batawi was killed on May 8 during a breakout at the central Baghdad prison in Karada, which contains 250 inmates, many of them Al Qaida suspects, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said an AQI inmate seized a gun from a prison guard and shot dead several officers and Interior Ministry officials.

The detainee then handed the firearm to other inmates in a shooout that lasted at least four hours. Officials said 11 AQI operatives were killed and none of the inmates escaped.

Al Batawi was deemed the planner of an AQI attack on a church in which at least 52 people were killed in November 2010. Al Batawi was captured along with 11 other insurgency suspects.

The shootout at Karada led to the killing of at least three senior officers, including Brig. Gen. Muaid Mahdi. Mahdi was identified as investigations chief at the Interior Ministry's counter-insurgency unit.

"We must not allow such setbacks to happen in the security field," Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki said.

The shootout took place amid accelerated U.S. efforts to train Iraq's military and police before Washington's scheduled pullout in late 2011. Officials acknowledged numerous problems with the police and security forces amid AQI's insurgency campaign.

On May 9, an Iraqi police chief escaped assassination when an explosion ripped through his motorcade in downtown Baghdad. A bodyguard of the presumed target, Maj. Gen. Sabah Al Shibli, was killed and two police officers were injured.

"The Iraqis are using the wrong strategy with prisoners and terrorists," parliamentarian Hakim Al Zamili, a member of the Security Committee, said.

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