Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Shows Concern over Iraq's Mass Arrest of Al Qaeda-Linked Suspects

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Shows Concern over Iraq's Mass Arrest of Al Qaeda-Linked Suspects

Article excerpt

The US military has raised its concerns with senior Iraqi officials about why US forces were not consulted on an operation to arrest 38 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an Al Qaeda affiliate.

The US military says it is concerned by a lack of coordination in the high-profile arrests of Islamic State of Iraq suspects by the Iraqi Interior Ministry, which has called the operation a major blow against the Al Qaeda-linked group.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Jawad Bolani and top Iraqi generals paraded 38 suspects they said included some of the senior leaders of the Al Qaeda affiliate.

In the news conference carried live on state-run television, a man said to be the long-sought senior leader of the group was brought in wearing a black hood, which was whipped off to show his face to the cameras.

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The US military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, said Iraqi security forces who carried out the arrests had not notified their US counterparts about the major operation against suspects sought by both the United States and Iraq.

"These were unilateral Iraqi operations, and so there's goodness in that. There's also some concern," Buchanan told the Monitor in an interview Saturday.

He said although the operations showed Iraqi special forces were tapping intelligence sources and conducting raids without US help, the lack of coordination could be detrimental and potentially dangerous to security forces unaware their counterparts were running parallel operations against the same suspects.

"We're going to great lengths to ensure that we're sharing all information and expecting them to be doing the same sort of thing," says Buchanan. "If we're working on the same set of targets, and we have a different agency on it, and we haven't coordinated, we could be working [at] cross purposes. So, at a minimum in a case like that, it would be a waste of resources."

Why wasn't the US consulted?

He said the US had raised its concerns with senior Iraqi officials about why US forces were not consulted on the operation, which would have required extensive planning as well as validated warrants for the arrests. …

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