Another Dead Terrorist

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“Another dead terrorist”, my favorite three words next to “I want you” coming from Angelina Jolie.

News today that we bagged a big fish. In fact this guy was next in line behind Zarqawi, pretty damn good news:

The No. 2 al Qaeda leader in Iraq was killed Sunday night, U.S. officials say. Abu Azzam, reportedly the deputy to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was shot during a house rain in Baghdad, according to Pentagon officials.

As the aide to Zarqawi, Azzam was reportedly in control of financing foreign fighters coming into Iraq, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

According to Pentagon officials coalition troops raided the house in response to a tip. When Azzam opened fire, these officials say, he was killed with troops’ return fire.

Guess there is no Club Gitmo for this guy huh?

Azzam was number two behind Zarqawi because this guy got wacked on June 26th:

A senior member of Iraq?s Al Qaeda branch was killed recently in a US crackdown on insurgents in the Iraqi town of Qaim near the Syrian border, a Jordanian newspaper reported yesterday.

Khalid Suleiman Darwish, better known as Abu Alghadiya, was among those killed in the operation, the daily Alghad quoted ?well- informed sources? as saying.

Abu Alghadiya, a Syrian dentist married to a Jordanian woman, was described by Arab media as the ?number two? in Iraq?s Al Qaeda network and tipped to succeed its leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.

Followed by this guy on August 12th:

Terrorist Abu Zubair, also known as Mohammed Salah Sultan, was killed Aug. 12 by Iraqi security forces in an ambush in the northern city of Mosul, officials said today.

Zubair was a known member of al Qaeda in Iraq and a lieutenant in the operations of terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi in Mosul.

Zubair was being sought by coalition and Iraqi security forces for his involvement in a July suicide bombing attack of a police station in Mosul where five Iraqi police officers died. He was also suspected of resourcing and facilitating suicide bomber attacks against coalition, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens throughout the country.

When Zubair was killed, he was wearing a suicide device consisting of an explosive pack across his stomach armed with pellets, officials noted.

And finally this guy on September 22nd:

The spiritual leader of the most active insurgency group in Iraq, Tawhid and Jihad, has been killed in a U.S. airstrike and his Jordanian family is preparing a wake, a Jordanian newspaper and Islamic clerics said Wednesday.

Sheik Abu Anas al-Shami, 35, was killed when a missile hit the car he was traveling in on Friday in the west Baghdad suburb of Abu-Ghraib, said the clerics, who have close ties to the family. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Al-Shami was an aide to Tawhid and Jihad’s leader, the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The noose is tightening

Bill over at The Fourth Rail clues us in on how important this guys was:

…Sheikh Abdullah Abu Azzam, al-Iraqi purportedly al Qaeda?s number two in command, has been killed by Coalition forces in Baghdad during a raid after the Coalition received a tip on his location. That the Coalition found him indicates excellent actionable intelligence was available, and that he was in Baghdad indicates he may have been leading the recent spate of attacks in the capitol. Any documentation found in Azzam?s possession may greatly assist in uncovering further al Qaeda leaders and cells.

While the report indicates Azzam was the chief financier for al Qaeda in Iraq, he has a longer pedigree than just a moneyman. Azzam was a native Iraqi and a member of Zarqawi?s original terrorist group Jamaat al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad. He was a ruthless al Qaeda commander in the Anbar province who was directly responsible for murdering government officials in the region during the summer of 2004.

When it was believed Zarqawi was on his deathbed last spring, intelligence officials suspected Azzam was one of several candidates to succeed Zarqawi. Of the nine likely candidates, three have been killed – Suleiman Khalid Darwish, another longtime Zarqawi aide and senior member of al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad, or captured – Abu Talha, al Qaeda?s commander in Mosul and former leader of Ansar al-Islam. Talha?s network in northern Iraq has been all but dismantled.

Azzam was no small player in jihad in Iraq. He was an experienced and ruthless killer, who as a native Iraqi understood the culture and context of Iraq greater than the foreign jihadis in country. His contacts are likely to be top notch. He will need to be replaced, and his replacement will have less influence and experience than his predecessor…

It seems that Zarqawi is in a bind, I can see him now – praying to allah and letting the big guy know that Sheehan, Michael Moore, MoveOn, and Sean Penn need to bail him out.

Maybe his recent losses have come from his righthand men hitting the bong a bit more then usual:

Saudi security sources said Sunni insurgents have been smuggling illegal drugs from Iraq to Saudi Arabia to finance insurgency attacks against coalition forces.

The sources said the drugs being smuggling now tend to be cannabis.

“In the space of one year, border police intercepted 10 tons of cannabis coming from Iraq,” a Saudi source said. “In the past, the [smuggled] merchandise used to consist of alcoholic beverages and prohibited drugs.”

Saudi officials said that from February through August 2005, Saudi authorities captured 682 infiltrators, Middle East Newsline reported. They said that Riyad, which deploys 35,000 troops, has spent more than $1 billion to improve security along the Iraqi border and closed 27 smuggling routes.

The sources said revenues from the smuggling were being shared by Al Qaida operatives in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. They said the money has been used to purchase weapons and finance attacks in both countries.

“We have reason to believe that profits from drug smuggling has been financing militants who are fighting Iraqi and coalition forces and facilitating the illegal entry of people into the country,” a Saudi security source told the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat daily. “It also supports Al Qaida’s terrorist activities inside the kingdom.”

On a more serious note, not only did we bag a biggie today but the ongoing operations along the Syrian border are going along great: (Via The Fourth Rail)

The Coalition continues to conduct targeted strikes on al Qaeda in the Qaim region along the Syrian border. A safe house in the town of Al ‘Ushsh, which is about two miles from Qaim, was destroyed. Abu Nasir, who according to CENTCOM was believed to be ?a senior al Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighter facilitator and the alleged new al Qaeda in Iraq Emir of Karabilah? was among an estimated twenty terrorists killed in the attack.

Abu Nasir’s tenure as al Qaeda Emir of the Qaim region was short-lived. He follows in the footsteps of Abu Ali, who was confirmed killed during a targeted airstrike in Haditha on September 18. Command in the Qaim region, like that in the Mosul region, is becoming a difficult job to retain.

Coalition intelligence in western Anbar appears to be improving, as senior al Qaeda leaders and large cells have been the targets of numerous successful operations. Col. Stephen Davis, the commander of the Marines Regimental Combat Team 2 states that the recent push along the Euphrates is the direct result of intelligence gains; ?The buildup is driven by the fact that intelligence pulls us where the threat is? We always go where the intel drives us.?

He also has up a diagram showing the terrorist attack rates in the country:

I’m gonna tip my mug of beer to these Special Forces guys who killed Azzam today, great job guys!

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