How Small Raids Net Big Gains


The commander in charge of helping local Iraqis organize and fight al Qaeda and other anti-coalition forces said Wednesday that a raid last month netted a treasure trove of information that could spell the doom of al Qaeda terrorist smuggling operations in Iraq and, potentially, worldwide.

The description of the find exemplifies the kind of intelligence American and Iraqi forces are gaining, with the help of local tipsters, and provides a window into how commanders speak with such authority on insurgent ties to Iran and al Qaeda activity in Iraq.

The raid, conducted Sept. 11 in the town of Sinjar near the Syrian border, targeted what Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner called a foreign terrorist facilitation cell.

As coalition forces busted in on the seven-man AQ team, one of them detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and one of his companions, while the U.S. team made short work of the rest.

Aside from disrupting the small smuggling team, coalition forces found literally terabytes of electronic files, Bergner said, including 800 names of al Qaeda terrorists 143 of those either en route or already delivered to Iraq.

The intel included the terrorists names, passport numbers, home addresses and their transit routes that were involved in getting them here, Bergner said in an interview with military bloggers Oct. 10.

The computer files included documents on logistics and administrative activities, we saw how they spend their money on everything from food, fuel and weapons and even allocation of money to support some of their families, Bergner added.

In one macabre find, Bergner said troops obtained copies of suicide pledges that al Qaeda is using to help lead these individuals towards the performance of a suicide mission.

Though the raid netted only seven dead AQ terrorists, the information gleaned from it could cripple the groups operations in Iraq. Home addresses, phone numbers, transit routes, money information, food procurement, ammo, gunsthink how many strands of the web were picked up and the down-stream effects those have to the entire AQ network.

I wonder if AQ cells are going to change their record keeping after this. And it also makes me wonder why they keep such detailed operational records. I thought we were being led to believe these groups were loosely affiliated cells. Only someone that was being held to strict account would keep such detailed records.

-- Christian

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