|01-12-2005, 05:47 PM||#1 (permalink)|
U.S. Marine ( FAST )
Join Date: Sep 2004
Troops Uncover Bomb Factory, Terrorist Cell
Raid yields enough explosives to assemble more than 50 improvised explosive devices.
By U.S. Army Spc. Al Barrus
122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
AL RASHID, Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 11, 2005 — On Jan. 9, the soldiers of Blue Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 5th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, embarked on a raid that proved to be their most successful in 10 months here.
The target was a residential home in the Al Doura neighborhood. An informant told of the exact layout of the home, and he was right on the money. After thorough searching, the site yielded 23 artillery shells, wire and electrical triggers and other supplies that could be assembled into more than 50 improvised explosive devices, said 1st Lt. Matthew Sullivan, Blue Platoon leader.
Thanks to the intelligence source, Sullivan’s platoon knew exactly what to expect when entering the house. A warm welcome wasn’t included.
“We busted in the house and there were two guys who were in there. One just took off running right as we kicked down the door,” said Sullivan, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native. “He managed to escape through the back door and scaled a wall then ran through another house. His brother was in the house also, but we got him.”
After all suspects were detained, the search of the home began. Nothing could prepare these troops for what they would find.
“I checked all but one room and didn’t see anything, and then I had some of my guys go upstairs to do some searching,” Sullivan explained. “Right when they opened up they said, ‘Oh, sir, you have to check this out.’ The room was just an IED workshop. All over the floor were wires, batteries and containers full of plastic explosives. There was even an IED already to go.”
Spc. Jason Nelson, a humvee gunner in Blue Platoon was among the first to enter the room with the IED workshop.
“I went into room, and I was just shocked by how much electrical stuff was in there laying on tables. I had never seen that much stuff,” commented Nelson, a Saukcentre, Minn., native. “By then, I already knew we made a big impact. I know having that out of those guys hands, it’s safer for us and for the Iraqis.”
At that point, Sullivan saw he had an operation too big for his platoon of 16 troopers to handle alone. Soon after his men discovered this workshop, the lieutenant called in for the explosives ordnance disposal team to deal with the bombs, and the battalion’s quick reaction force to apply more manpower.
When the rest of the backup arrived, more security could be applied, allowing for a more thorough search. Metal detector assistance found the artillery shells buried in the back yard. A taxi cab parked at the home had a wire-rigged assembly in the trunk that could perfectly fit six artillery shells, Sullivan added.
Over the seven hours of searching, the list of suspicious items kept adding up: several handfuls of C4 explosives, bags of nails and marbles for shrapnel, tear gas grenades and gas masks, dozens of disassembled remote control cars, 30 cell phones, 50 Sony Playstations. A beret and armband from the former regime’s Special Forces provided a clue as to who these terrorists’ former employer was, Sullivan said.
In all, the target was the most fruitful cache of weapons for a home this size in the battalion’s history here. It was also a great victory in cracking down on the source of anti-Iraqi attacks in Company B’s sector, he said.
“We have been tracking these guys for a month and a half so far. They are linked to some IEDs that have hit our company,” Sullivan continued. “I think this will make the number of IED attacks in our sector fall drastically.”
Sullivan said that this operation not only helped keep his troops safe, but put an end to what the terrorists had planned on doing for the elections.
"We heard they were planning to hit a Christian church with their car bomb and just disrupt things before the elections, but we put a kink in that,” he said. “Now we just need to find the rest of members of the cell one by one, and who’s financing them.”
The platoon leader said it’s missions like this one that remind him of why he enjoys leading troops in combat.
“It’s been a great experience doing this job. I can’t ask for anything more than to lead a platoon in combat,” Sullivan concluded. “It’s kind of a rush sometimes. It’s been something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
|bomb, cell, factory, terrorist, troops, uncover|
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