Friday, May 4, 2007

Whoops! We already killed that guy!

I thought I was going to a ceremony for issuing the Silver Star, one of the Army's highest honor's. Apparently, there were two events going on today at CPIC in Baghdad. So, I found a seat at Maj. Gen. Caldwall's Press Conference. I learned all about Operation Rat Trap. Just in the past few days, 95 rats were caught, and 15 killed. Rats, of course, are Iraqi insurgents. The most interesting part of the interview I thought was the little discussion the General had about blogs and how he was on a panel that discussed the implication of the blogging's affect on the war. Of course that conversation was cut short to discuss the real meeting, RAT TRAP.
The General said that over 29 operations were going on in the last month. Once a rat was caught, they would squeeze them with a little cheese and drop them back in the maze. Well, not really. But I like the sound of that.
The king rat was Muharib Abdul Latif, of the Al Juburi clan. He was killed in a raid. His body was taken from the scene for DNA identification, which took two days. Once his body was ID, he was released to a clan member, who was also locked up, but let go. Sort of like catch and release sport fishing I imagine.
Muharib was a bad rat, one of the real nasty ones. He is linked to the abduction of Jill Carroll, the Christian Scientist Monitor's writer who spent months in insurgents' captivity. Tom Fox was last seen alive in Muharib's presence, according to lessor rats caught and interrogated. Muharib is also linked to the kidnapping of two German civilians.
Muharib, we were told, hide out in Syria a lot and they think his family is still hiding there. Damn those rats I say, and international law, too, that keeps us from spreading a little rat poison in Syria. I wonder if Condi Rice talked to Syria lately about the rat problem.
They caught Muharib four miles West of Taji, a town about 30 miles or so North of Baghdad. They detained six people during his capture and killed five, including him.
The General said that they were tracking a smaller rat that they thought would lead them to Muharib.
“They got them both in the same target set,” Maj. Gen. Caldwell said.
Another rat they have been looking to catch is Al Baghdaddi. I am not sure if I spelled the name correctly, and the General said they are not sure that this guy even exists. They have no information on him, he said.
So, after they released the corpse of Muharib to his relative, the relative was again detained at a check point when the Iraqi authorities discovered that he was transporting the body of a dead terrorist on their watch list. This further blew up in the media and caused more confusion, and speculation that Al Baghdaddi, the international man of mystery, was dead, or someone else, although Osama bin Laden's name was never mentioned.
Muharib was killed at 01:42 a.m. May 1st, the General said. It took two days to figure everything out, and three hours prior to the press conference was when everything was finally sorted out.
However, no weapons of mass destruction were recovered during OPERATION RAT TRAP. But they did stop some terrorist from making more of those chlorine bombs that have become fashionable of late.
“Al Qaeda in Iraq has been a very resilient organization,” Maj. Gen. Caldwell said. Yes, the rats are bad. The press conference was in a windowless room with green curtains on the side. Fox, CNN, AP, NY Times and LA Times were a few of the numerous reporters there, asking all sorts of questions, trying to figure out what this all means.
One guy from a big newspaper asked the General if this meant anything that Muharib was dead.
“Anytime we are able to take down someone associated with kidnappings . . .” Maj. Gen. Caldwell said, “Taking him off the street is a good thing.”
The General also added that while the confusion was not exactly what they wanted, and they did contact Iraqi authorities after the killing of Muharib, it was not a bad thing that the Iraqi's intercepted the corpse. It means that they are looking for the bad guys, dead or alive, he indicated.
“Al Qaeda works like a franchise,” Maj. Gen. Caldwell said.

Look out Walmart.


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