Al Qaida in Baghdad traffics in weapons stolen from Saddam's arsenal

Al Qaida is a major player in Iraq's weapons trade.
U.S. officials said Al Qaida, in cooperation with former Saddam Hussein loyalists, has been acquiring large amounts of weapons stolen from Iraq army arsenals and acquired from Syria. Al Qaida has used some of the weapons and explosives to supply other cells assigned to attack Shi'ites and U.S.-led coalition forces.

"Al Qaida has the money and organization to play a major role in the weapons trade, particularly in the provinces of Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala," an official said.

On Jan. 2, the U.S. military reported a raid against an Al Qaida weapons dealer in Baghdad. The military said three insurgents were killed, one injured and two arrested.

"One of the men killed, an Al Qaida weapons dealer whom coalition forces were targeting, was identified by his wife," a military statement said.

The military did not identify the weapons dealer, said to have traded in rifles, explosives and ammunition. But officials said he was one of several in the Al Qaida weapons trade in the Baghdad area.

The Iraq army also captured an Al Qaida operative who facilitated the flow of improvised explosive devices to Anbar. The military said the unidentified operative maintained close ties to the Al Qaida network leadership.

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