Friday, May 1, 2009

Iraq Forces Report Islamic State of Iraq Leader Captured

Via Times Online UK -

Iraqi forces said yesterday that they had arrested one of the most wanted al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq, even as his suicide bombers killed more than 70 people in attacks in and around Baghdad.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, a leader of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq, was held in the capital after a tip-off, said Major General Qasim Atta, Baghdad’s security spokesman.

The Islamic State of Iraq is a shadowy, al-Qaeda-linked, Islamist umbrella group that in 2006 declared an independent caliphate in mainly Sunni West Baghdad, as well as in areas to the north and west. Modelled on the Taleban in Afghanistan, it murdered and intimidated anyone who did not adhere to its strict Islamist rulings.

Iraqi security forces have reported al-Baghdadi’s death and capture on several different occasions in the past, as well as claiming to have captured the man believed to be al-Qaeda’s overall leader in the country, Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Some intelligence sources have denied that either man even exists, claiming that they are fronts either to throw the security forces off the scent or, in the case of al-Baghdadi, to give the terrorist network an Iraqi face.

The killing in June 2006 of the most notorious al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was expected to undermine the organisation, but the main blow to the terrorist networks came when their local Sunni insurgent allies turned on them, sickened by their indiscriminate bloodshed and refusal to engage in any political dialogue, and tempted by US offers of rapprochement through the Awakening movement.

Despite that, al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks have proven capable of carrying out a number of bloody attacks in recent weeks that peaked yesterday with two suicide bombings that killed 73 people.

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