WASHINGTON – Documents captured in recent fighting in Baghdad included two identity cards for access to the fortified Green Zone, which contains Iraqi government headquarters, and an ID card for access to the U.S. Embassy, the Pentagon says.
The area where the documents were captured — just west of the Green Zone — has been a stronghold of Sunni extremists linked to Al Qaeda, said Army Col. Steven Townsend, commander of 3rd Stryker Brigade that led the operation.
Townsend, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Monday in a videoconference from Baghdad, did not mention the discovery of the identity cards. That information was provided separately by Pentagon officials after he spoke.
The adequacy of security in the Green Zone, also known as the international zone, has recently come into question, particularly in the aftermath of the April 12 suicide bombing in the Iraqi parliament building's dining hall. One lawmaker was killed in the blast, which was claimed by an Al Qaeda-led amalgam of Sunni insurgents.
About two weeks before that attack, two suicide vests were found unexploded in the Green Zone. Less than a week before that, a rocket attack in the restricted zone killed an American contractor and an American soldier.
After Townsend's briefing on the results of the March 20 to April 26 security sweep by U.S. and Iraqi troops in the Mansour district in west-central Baghdad, the Pentagon provided a detailed and lengthy list of the weapons, ammunition, documents and other materials captured during the fighting.
In the category of "documents and money" the list cited 220 identity cards, of which two were for access to the Green Zone and one to the U.S. Embassy, which is inside the zone on the banks of the Tigris River.
No details about the identity cards were provided.
The list of captured materials included 12 passports — no country was specified — and five Iraqi army ID cards, including four for an Iraqi army lieutenant colonel. The U.S. military also cited what it called Al Qaeda propaganda materials, an Iranian training certificate dated January 2007, a briefcase with drawings of "remote airplanes" with flight plans around Baghdad, a map with possible locations of roadside bombs and a black box with notes on remote-controlled cars.
Townsend said the operation was the most successful of nine such clearing efforts his brigade has carried out since February.
"As a result of this operation, 3,200 roadside bombs have been prevented; 42 terrorists were jailed; enough weapons and explosives were captured to outfit an enemy infantry battalion," Townsend said.
And they confiscated a few items you might not associate with Iraqi insurgents: 100 cases of Smirnoff vodka and 50 cases of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky.