Thursday, November 18, 2004
What's inside Zarqawi's Headquarters
Military Believes Zarqawi Headquarters Found:
In the house, the soldiers found letters reportedly written by Zarqawi to his lieutenants, medical supplies from the U.S. Agency for International Development and boxes of ammunition from the Chinese and Jordanian armies and nearby they discovered medical supplies from the International Red Cross. The ground offensive led by U.S. Marines has "broken the back of the insurgency" in Iraq, disrupting rebel operations across the country, he said.
The house used by Zarqawi, a simple cement structure, was on a block that Army Maj. David Johnson described as a "one-stop shop for terrorists."
"That part of town is the most dangerous place on earth," said Johnson, a historian attached to 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2, which conducted the raid.
Uniformed insurgents in black masks attacked troops from the neighborhood for several days, ambushing them with more than 15 rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds and sniper fire. U.S. warplanes and artillery subsequently bombed the area.
Iraqi security forces, acting as translators, identified the letters, which were written in black ink on white paper, as correspondence between Zarqawi and his top aides.
The letters reportedly contained requests for financing and weapons, Johnson said.
The soldiers also found bicycles and messenger notes with instructions such as, "Go to the flour factory. There is something there for you."
An underground tunnel ran from a dirt fighting position outside the house to a walled courtyard. Soldiers hauled out boxes filled with passports and identification cards.
In warehouse buildings not far from the house, soldiers found a classroom with drawings of U.S. F-16 and F-18 fighter planes, a repair shop for anti-tank rounds and a factory for making car bombs that had a Ford Explorer inside with Texas license plates. A garage with a roll-up door had been turned into a makeshift mosque.
Update, from the New York Times:
Several command and control centers operated by insurgents have been discovered in Falluja, a top Marine officer said today, but he denied reports that one of them was the headquarters of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
A great amount of intelligence material was recovered at the centers, including computers and ledgers listing fighters, the officer, Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said at a briefing outside Falluja, west of Baghdad.