BAGHDAD (Mar. 26, 2008)– The Hillah Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics unit, advised by U.S. Special Forces, detained a suspected high-level Special Group leader and recovered a significant weapons and munitions cache during a patrol March 22 in Hashimiyah.
Hillah ISWAT and U.S. SF were conducting a daytime patrol in a known operating area for Special Groups and criminal militias that target Iraqi and Coalition forces as well as Iraqi civilians for attack in Babil Province.
During the patrol, the suspect argued with ISWAT officers as he attempted to prevent ISWAT vehicles from moving up a canal road in an industrial area of Hashimiyah, southeast of Hillah. Failing to convince ISWAT, he started to run away, disregarding orders from ISWAT to stop. ISWAT quickly caught the suspect and subsequently determined that he was a person long-sought by Iraqi and Coalition forces in Hillah.
The suspect is believed to be a Special Group battalion commander and a major figure behind Special Group violence and criminal activity in Babil Province. Credible intelligence links him to numerous rocket, mortar and improvised explosive device attacks against Iraqi and Coalition forces, criminal activity against Iraqi civilians and trafficking of explosively formed penetrators. He is believed to be a central figure in weapons trafficking between Najaf, Karbala, and Nasiriyah.
Suspicious of the suspect’s motives for not wanting ISWAT near the industrial area, ISWAT began an immediate and thorough search of several buildings in the area.
During that search, ISWAT and U.S. SF found a major weapons cache supporting Special Group violence in Babil Province. The cache included several EFPs, EFP components including more than 50 copper disks, 40,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, 122 mm high-explosive rockets, more than 100 HE mortar rounds, 107 mm HE rockets, more than 200 pounds of C-4 explosive, 240 mm HE rockets, 50 complete rail systems for launching 122 mm rockets, components for constructing IEDs, rocket propelled grenade launchers with RPG rockets, a 81 mm mortar system, anti-personnel land mines and HE grenades.
The U.S. SF team believes this to be a significant cache supporting Special Group and criminal militia operations in the area.
The capture of the munitions as well as the suspected Special Group leader is expected to have a significant impact against groups that continue to operate illegally and which remain a threat in the area.
FOR MORE INFORMATION or for high-res photos, CONTACT THE MULTI-NATIONAL CORPS – IRAQ PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE BY E-MAIL AT: MNCIPAOVictoryMainJO@iraq.centcom.mil