Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is AQI leader really in Iraqi custody?

Very good news, if true. 

Al-Qaeda in Iraq chief 'in custody' 
Al-Iraqiya, an Iraqi television channel, showed this picture, purported to be of al-Baghdadi [AFP]

The Iraqi prime minister has announced that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, a suspected senior commander of al-Qaeda in Iraq, is in custody.

Nuri al-Maliki referred to al-Baghdadi as "the head of evil, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq," accusing him of trying to ignite a civil war in the country through a campaign of bombings against civilians and holy Shia Muslim sites.

"This terrorist has strong relations with the previous regime and made a devilish alliance with its followers that left its mark on the innocent bodies of children, women and sheikhs in bloody scenes," al-Maliki said in a statement on Tuesday.

Iraqi police said al-Baghdadi was captured in Baghdad on Thursday.

However, officials have reported his arrest or killing before, only to later say they were wrong.

Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, a military spokesman, said the government
was certain the man arrested was al-Baghdadi and showed what he said was the first known picture of him.

The US military said it was working to verify who was captured.

Al-Baghdadi is the purported head of the Islamic State of Iraq, one of a handful of Sunni Arab groups accused of attacks in the northern city of Mosul and other parts of Iraq.

'Fictitious character'

The US has previously said al-Baghdadi could be a fictitious character, used to give an Iraqi face to an organisation dominated by foreign al-Qaeda fighters.

A security official said information from al-Baghdadi had led Iraqi authorities to arrest four people plotting an attack to coincide with the birthday of Saddam Hussein, the former president who was toppled by US forces in 2003.

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