BAGHDAD (AFP) – The US military said on Wednesday it had seized a list of some 500 Al-Qaeda members recruited to fight in Iraq from the Middle East and Europe during a raid in northwest Iraq that killed eight militants.
Major General Kevin Bergner said the September 11 raid near Sinjar targetted a senior Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, known as Muthanna, who was killed along with seven colleagues.
“Muthanna was the emir of Iraq and Syrian border area and he was a key facilitator of the movement of foreign terrorists once they crossed into Iraq from Syria,” Bergner told a news conference in Baghdad.
“He worked closely with Syrian-based Al-Qaeda foreign terrorist facilitators,” he added.
“During the operation, we captured multiple documents and electronic files that gave an insight into Al-Qaeda’s foreign terrorist operations not only in Iraq but throughout the region,” he said.
The files revealed “a list of some 500 foreign terrorists being recruited by Al-Qaeda, biographies on 143 foreign terrorists en route to Iraq or who have already arrived, including personal data, photographs, recruiters’ names, route and date of entry into Iraq.”
Bergner said they came from a range of countries including Libya, Morocco, Syria, Algeria, Oman, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.
The Iraqi and US governments have accused neighbouring countries such as Syria and Iran of not doing enough to check the flow of foreign fighters across their borders into Iraq.
Among the documents were pledges by foreign recruits who were committed to suicide operations, Bergner added.