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July 18, 2007

Top Iraqi al-Qaida Leader In Iraq Captured

mashhadani_070718_ms.jpgIn some really good news out of Iraq - the figure behind Omar al-Baghdadi is no longer free to head the Islamic State of Iraq!

The U.S. military captured the highest-ranking Iraqi in the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq in Mosul on July 4th. And apparently, Khalid Abdul Fatah Da'ud Mahmud Al Mashadani, aka, Abu Shahed, believed to be the most senior Iraqi in the al-Qaida in Iraq network, is singing like a canary; take, for example, this very interesting tidbit of information:

... the Islamic State of Iraq has identified its leader as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, with al-Masri as minister of war. There are no known photos of al-Baghdadi.

Bergner said al-Mashhadani had told interrogators that al-Baghdadi is a "fictional role" created by al-Masri and that an actor is used for audio recordings of speeches posted on the Web.

"In his words, the Islamic State of Iraq is a front organization that masks the foreign influence and leadership within al-Qaida in Iraq in an attempt to put an Iraqi face on the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq," Bergner said.

As Hot Air suggests, capturing Al Mashadani isn't quite as sweet as capturing the leader of AQI, but given that ISI is the self-styled umbrella group for Salafist jihadists in the country, it's the next best thing:
... assuming the claims made in the article are accurate. They (ISI)created a phony group with a phony leader, replete with audio communiques and publications, to reassure Iraqi Salafists that they were serving an Iraqi-led jihad. The question is why. Salafists aren't nationalists; they're religious fundamenalists. Having a nationalist figurehead would make it easier to recruit young Iraqis, certainly, but so much easier that it would be worth all the trouble to which they went to create ISI?
Interestingly, The Wapo, not usually apt to say anything good about Iraq, calls attention to the fact that Al Mashadani: is "providing significant insights into the nature and circumstances of al Qaeda in Iraq," that "the U.S. military has always said al Qaeda in Iraq was run by foreigners," and that "The rank and file Iraqis in AQI believe they are following the Iraqi al-Baghdadi. But all the while they have been following the orders of the Egyptian Abu Ayyab al-Masri."

Cross posted from Hyscience

Posted by Richard at July 18, 2007 11:45 AM

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