BAGHDAD: Iraq said Monday it has detained the mastermind behind a deadly 2016 bombing in a Baghdad shopping center, which killed more than 300 people and wounded 250.
The suicide car bombing in the central Karradah district was the deadliest attack by a single bomber in the Iraqi capital after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
“Five years after the terrorist bombing of Karrada, our brave forces succeeded in capturing the terrorist Ghazwan Al-Zobai in a complex intelligence operation outside the country,” Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said on Twitter.
“He is the primary culprit behind the Karrada atrocity and many others,” he said, adding: “Bringing those complicit in the shedding of our people’s blood is a national duty.”
Al-Kadhimi also said they have commissioned a design contest to memorialize the victims of the Karada bombing, which “will be a part of our remembrance of all Iraqi victims.”
Bringing those complicit in the shedding of our people’s blood is a national duty. We have commissioned a design contest for a memorial for the victims of the Karada bombing. This will be a part of our remembrance of all Iraqi victims.
— Mustafa Al-Kadhimi مصطفى الكاظمي (@MAKadhimi) October 18, 2021
Two Iraqi intelligence officials said the man identified as Ghazwan Al-Zobai, an Iraqi, was detained during a complex operation that was carried out with the cooperation of a neighboring country they did not name. He had been tracked by authorities for months.
They told The Associated Press that Al-Zobai was detained in an unidentified foreign country and transported to Iraq two days ago. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak of the operation on the record.
The 29-year-old Al-Zobai was an Al-Qaeda militant when he was imprisoned by the Americans in Iraq at Cropper prison until 2008, and then escaped from Abu Ghraib prison in 2013. He joined the Daesh group after that.
The officials said Al-Zobai plotted many attacks in Iraq, the most infamous of which was the 2016 bombing in Karrada in 2016. He operated under the Alias Abu Obaida.
At least 323 people were killed in the car bomb attack on July 3, 2016, when Iraqis were shopping before Eid Al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The blaze was fed by a tinderbox of shops filled with clothing and oil-based perfumes for sale and lined with flammable panels.
Al-Zobai’s arrest came in the second such operation conducted by the Iraqi National Intelligence Service since Iraq’s federal elections Oct. 10.
Iraqi officials said they captured Sami Jasim, a Daesh leader last Monday in a similar operation abroad. Jasim had a $5 million bounty on his head from the US State Department’s Rewards for Justice program, which describes him as having been “instrumental in managing finances for Daesh terrorist operations.”
(With AP and AFP)