Updated at 7:17 p.m. EDT, May 18, 2009
At least five Iraqis were killed and 14 more were wounded in the latest attacks. A man the Iraqi government claims is a top leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq gave a detailed interview to security officials on his alleged operations. Also, Iraq’s Federal Court selected January 30 as the date for the next general elections. These will be the first national elections since late 2005. Meanwhile, a leading politician in Diyala was arrested.
The Iraqi military raided a Diyala province council meeting in Baquba and detained a leading member of the Iraqi Accord Front on terrorism charges. Although other council members attempted to stop the arrest, Abdul Jabar Ali Ibrahim al-Khazraji was spirited away to Baghdad. Recently, security forces launched a security operation in the province; however, the new operation appears to merely be a repeat of last years failed attempt to tame the province. Local politicians then, as now, charged that security forces allowed gunmen to escape the area and that false accustions are being made. Many believe that the operation last year was really an attempt by Prime Minister Maliki to politically reign in the province. Indeed, Prime Minister Maliki recently called for reducing Sunni and Kurdish political power. In the past, strained relations between the Maliki government and members of the group have led to arrests and charges of harrasment in other parts of Iraq as well.
The man the Iraqi government claims is Abu Omar al-Baghdadi discussed on videotape how the Islamic State of Iraq obtained funding and carried out terrorist attacks. Many foreign security experts doubt this man is al-Baghdadi, who may even be a fictional creation. Recently, another man claiming to be al-Baghdad released an audiotape countering the capture claims.
In Baghdad, a bomb wounded two people in the Allawi neighborhood.
One man was killed and two more were wounded in Hawija when the bomb they were allegedly planting exploded prematurely.
In Mosul, gunmen killed a police officer late last night. A separate shooting last night left one civil servant dead and one bystander wounded. East of the city, a bomb wounded six people, including two Iraqi soldiers. An Islamic State in Iraq leader was captured. A kidnapping victim was liberated. Also, U.S. troops killed a pedestrian.
Two death sentences were given to a pair of men convicted of involvement in an assassination attempt in Missan.
Over 132,000 Iraqis have been pardoned since February 2008 under a general Amnesty Law.