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FORWARD OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq — Ten suspected insurgents were arrested Monday in the northern Iraqi city of Hechel, U.S. military officials said.

Iraqi and U.S. military officials at first thought there was a high-value target among the detainees who they believed was linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.

However, “al-Qaida in Iraq is operating in this area — we know this for sure,” said U.S. Army intelligence officer Capt. William Lavender, 39, of San Diego.

The capture resulted from a tip from an Iraqi who proffered the information to military officials based at a new combat outpost established last week in Hechel during Operation Bellicose Bastion.

The mission was carried out by members of Battery A, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, who staged from the outpost, which is named Nepsa. The outpost lies in what military officials in the area call the most problematic for them in terms of guerrilla movement.

The entire regiment is responsible for an area the size of Delaware, according to the regiment’s operations officer, Maj. George Johnson, 39, of De Soto, Mo.

The detainees were brought to Forward Operating Base Q-West, about 190 miles north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, before being transported to Mosul, where the regiment’s command brigade operates an interrogation and detention facility.

Lavender said the event demonstrates the Iraqi population is cooperating with U.S. military officials, fed up with attacks against their families and communities.

“A lot of the things we get of a significant nature come through local individuals,” he said. “That’s what happened here.”

A few of the detainees, who were blindfolded, were crying while facing a wall as they were being prepared for questioning at Q-West. They are all members of the same family.

U.S. military officials said once the detainees are taken to Mosul, their biometric information will be put into a database and they will undergo a medical evaluation to ensure they were not abused during their arrest.

Once released from U.S. custody, they can be immediately turned over to Iraqi authorities for further questioning and incarceration, assuming they are wanted in connection with a crime.

The commander of the men who carried out the pre-dawn raid, Capt. Iven Sugai, 30, from Ewa, Hawaii, said more than 30 men from both coalition and Iraqi forces were involved in the mission.

The 4th Brigade’s Judge Advocate General office also located in Mosul, said any Iraqis held in their custody are prosecuted under Iraqi law. It is often the Iraq Terror Law under which many insurgents who are found guilty are indicted.


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