- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military said yesterday that it had arrested a leading Sunni politician’s security guard, who was in the final stages of preparing suicide attacks inside the heavily guarded Green Zone in central Baghdad.

An unprecedented pedestrian curfew prompted by the arrest forced millions of Baghdad residents to remain indoors yesterday, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The U.S. military said the suspected al Qaeda in Iraq member was arrested late Friday at the home of senior Sunni Arab political leader Adnan al-Dulaimi, where he was working as a personal bodyguard.

Mr. al-Dulaimi is a member of the Iraqi Accordance Front — the largest Sunni coalition in the 275-member parliament, where it holds 44 seats — and the military was quick to distance the politician from the raid, stressing that he was “not the target.”

“This operation in no way implies Dr. al-Dulaimi was associated with any illegal activity,” the military said, adding that the suspect was captured in a security trailer at Mr. al-Dulaimi’s home.

After the arrest, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was advised by the U.S. military to shut down the capital and order its 7 million residents to stay indoors.

“They have information [that] terrorists entered Baghdad,” Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Kaim Khalaf said. “The prime minister agreed to give our security forces the freedom of movement to raid certain places.”

The curfew was rare, both in its scope and severity, and caught many residents of Baghdad by surprise.

Many people are fasting during Ramadan, eating and drinking only after sunset, and they were caught without supplies and fresh bread — a Baghdad staple. Most residents did not have a chance to shop on Friday because of a regular, weekly vehicle curfew to prevent attacks against mosques during prayers on the Muslim Sabbath.

The U.S. military said the suspected terrorist, identified as Khudhir Farhan, and seven members of his al Qaeda cell “were in the final stages of launching a series” of car bomb attacks “possibly involving suicide vests.”

“The detained individual is suspected of involvement in the planning of a multi-vehicle suicide operation inside Baghdad’s international zone,” the military said, referring to the Green Zone.

The Green Zone in downtown Baghdad is surrounded by layers of concrete blast walls and guarded by coalition forces and the Iraqi army. The Iraqi government lives and works there, the parliament is housed there, and it is also home to the U.S. Embassy.

As a bodyguard for Mr. al-Dulaimi, Farhan could have had access to the parliament, often attended by the prime minister and his staff, and possibly to offices used by Cabinet members. It is doubtful, however, he could have reached the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy compound.

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