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U.S. Special Forces Crush Group With Ties to al-Qaeda - 2003-04-01

In Northern Iraq, U.S. Special Forces and their Iraqi Kurdish allies announce they have crushed an Islamic militant group, with alleged ties to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

A Special Forces Commander told reporters Tuesday, most of the members of the militant group Ansar al-Islam were killed in this area, in a Kurdish led ground offensive last week, which was preceded by U.S. missile attacks. The U.S. believes the ousted group could have ties to both al-Qaeda and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The Commander, who was unnamed for security reasons, said the Kurdish fighters deserve the bulk of the credit.

“What happened here is that essentially in the period of about a day and a half, a terrorist organization that has held a grip on this region for the last several years, was rooted out and neutralized.”

He also said while they haven’t been tested yet, items that were found in the raids may prove that Iraq is in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

“All I can tell you is that there were things we have found on sight that presented themselves, at least to my mind and my opinion, confirmed many of the reports you have seen over the last eight months that this site was indeed being used for some type of chem. or bio. production.”

A reporter for ABC News, an American television network, was allowed to join the Special Forces, on a visit to one of the bases the U-S and Kurdish troops raided. There they found documents on how to make biological and chemical weapons, gas masks, and injectors for atropine an antidote for nerve gas, al-Qaeda manuals, including one on how to blow up buildings, with a diagram of U.S. embassies bombed by al-Qaeda in 1998. They also found lists of names, which U.S. intelligence is now comparing with its lists of known al-Qaeda members.

Kurdish fighters who took part in the raids have also detained one al-Qaeda suspect. A U.S. Commander said that suspect admitted to being an al-Qaeda member, and to fighting with the group in Afghanistan.