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Iraq Transition

Nearly 1,000 Abu Ghraib detainees released


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Nearly 1,000 detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison were released this week at the request of the Iraqi government, Multi-National Forces said Saturday.

"This major release, the largest to date, marks a significant event in Iraq's progress toward democratic governance and the rule of law, demonstrating the involvement of Iraq's government in the effort to provide both security and justice for all Iraqis," the forces said in a written statement.

The detainees were released from Wednesday through Saturday, with the assistance of the Iraqi government, the statement said. They represent all Iraqi communities and had been brought to Abu Ghraib from detention facilities throughout Iraq.

Those chosen for release were not convicted of violent crimes, the statement said, "and all have admitted their crimes, renounced violence and pledged to be good citizens of a democratic Iraq."

Each individual case was reviewed by a combined board of Iraqi and Coalition officials, the statement said, "and decided in the light of Iraq's ongoing efforts to create peace and stability and build a brighter future for its citizens."

'Facilitator to bombers' killed

Meanwhile, a man described as a "major facilitator of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into northern Iraq" was killed by coalition forces Thursday in Mosul, the U.S. military said Saturday.

Abu Khallad, a Saudi national, was found after intelligence sources and tips led Multi-National Forces to his location in Mosul.

"Upon arrival at that location, multi-national forces stopped his vehicle, a gunfight immediately ensured and Khallad and an unidentified terrorist were shot and killed," the military said in a written statement.

Recent detainees have said Khallad contacted recruiters in Saudi Arabia to coordinate the movement of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into northern Iraq, the military said.

Also, "once in Mosul, he allegedly directed the distribution of the foreign fighters and suicide bombers to the various terrorist cells operating in Mosul."

In addition, the military believes Khallad was active in supporting foreign fighters smuggled into the Mosul area, supplying them with money, weapons and bomb-making materials, according to information from detainees.

The resources, the detainees have said, were from donations to the same Saudi contacts who recruited the fighters and sent them to Mosul.

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