Police smash murderous Qaeda cell in Baghdad
BAGHDAD - Iraqi security forces have smashed an Al-Qaeda network in Iraq allegedly responsible for hundreds of killings in Baghdad, a senior police official said on Sunday.
"Interior Ministry forces dismantled (an) Al-Qaeda network that was responsible for more than 100 murders of policemen, soldiers, judges, officials and jewellers in Baghdad," the official said, asking not to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The cell was also behind the May 26 assassination of Ali al-Lami, head of the controversial Justice and Accountability Commission which investigates issues relating to the former regime of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, he added.
The group was responsible for a failed May 8 prison escape at an Interior Ministry detention centre in Baghdad, which resulted in the deaths of 11 Al-Qaeda militants and six police, the official said.
That mutiny was triggered by Huthaifa al-Batawi, suspected of masterminding an October 31 Al-Qaeda raid on a Baghdad church in which 44 worshippers, two priests and seven members of the security forces were killed.
The official said that the demolished network consisted of 10 militants and was led by a senior Al-Qaeda extremist who committed suicide last week when police tried to arrest him in the Baab al-Muadham district of central Baghdad.
He added that the head of the cell, whom he did not name, was a former industry ministry official who had been imprisoned at the Camp Bucca detention facility in southern Iraq.
Several industry ministry employees had previously been shown to be linked to another Al-Qaeda cell headed by Munaf Abdul Rahim al-Rawi, who was arrested by Iraqi security forces on March 11 last year. He too had been employed at the industry ministry.
Rawi was allegedly behind two suicide bombings in December 2008 against police stations in the city of Fallujah west of Baghdad which killed 19 people, including 12 policemen.