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Iraq: A Mission Already Focused On Counterterrorism

The United States military forces in Iraq announced that an Iraqi MP was arrested at an al-Qaeda meeting in northwestern Iraq, a sudden hotbed of successful counter al-Qaeda operations. Though the US declined to name the apprehended Iraqi minister of parliament, it is believed to be Naif Mohammed Jasim.

A member of Iraq's parliament is in U.S. custody and being questioned after an Iraqi special forces raid on a suspected al Qaeda meeting, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

A spokesman for the Iraqi parliament said the lawmaker was from the assembly's main Sunni Arab bloc.

The man was held after a raid in the Sunni Arab town of Sharqat, 260 km (160 miles) northwest of Baghdad, in volatile Salahuddin province on Sept. 29, the U.S. military said in an email in response to queries from Reuters.

"The man being held is one of the 275 members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives," the military said.

"Officially, he is not considered a 'detainee' at this time. He is being held for questioning after being found at a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq meeting during a combined Iraqi Security Forces/Coalition operation," it said.

The military said it would not release the man's name. It is believed to be the first time a member of Iraq's parliament has been detained by Iraqi or U.S. forces.

The Iraqi parliament spokesman said Accordance Front member Naif Mohammed Jasim had been taken into custody while he was attending a funeral in Sharqat on Wednesday.

It was announced yesterday that al-Qaeda's Emir of the Iraq/Syria Border, 'Muthanna,' was killed in a September 11 operation in northwest Iraq and a treasure trove of intelligence gathered from the scene. Today, it was announced that the al-Qaeda terrorist responsible for funneling over $100,000,000 into Iraq this summer alone was apprehended alive in Baghdad. That development and the above are most likely gains netted in large part from the al-Qaeda intelligence gained in September.

It can hardly be debated. This Is Counterterrorism in Iraq. Any proposed transition of forces to the periphery and out of the heart of Iraq in order to supposedly "change our mission and focus it more narrowly on counterterrorism" in reality makes it less so.