"Cleansing" One Town Of Al Qaeda

The Iraqi tribal leaders and American soldiers in the town of Zambraniyah, Iraq, gathered for what was billed as quote "a celebratory cleansing." CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reported on the scene - and what it meant to the Iraqis.



The mud buildings were an al Qaeda in Iraq torture chamber and operational headquarters.

Abu Mohammed says he was chained up here for two weeks and saw 13-year-old children killed. When al Qaeda fled, they left little behind.

As inconsequential as the little farming complex may look, in the grand scheme of convincing the local population that security really has returned, it is a potent symbol.

To make that point local sheikhs and tribal leaders were given, if not exactly box seats, certainly prime spots for a show arranged just for them.

Three thousand pounds of bombs costing more than $100,000 dropped from a B-1 bomber obliterated the building. But the military hopes the payoff will be long term.

The dignitaries seemed impressed.

Even before today they were co-operating with the Americans. For nearly two years al Qaeda in Iraq held sway here.

"People getting killed every day," said Yassin al-Hamdan, a school principal, describing it.

Roadside bombs, the dreaded IEDs, were everywhere. No road was safe.

The battle to regain control was a hard and bloody slog.

It was one of the few places where al Qaeda fought back.

"We came here six weeks ago, we took the ground from al Qaeda," said Lt. Col. Mark Solomon. "And now as you saw earlier today the children are back in school, the businesses are open, the Sons of Iraq and the Iraqi Army are guarding the roads and are guarding the area, keeping it secure for the population."

And in case al Qaeda wants to come back - it's a not so subtle reminder of the welcome that awaits them.

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