Al Qaeda in Iraq Religious Emir Killed in Airstrike

Another high level al Qaeda in Iraq official, spiritual leaderSheik Mansour, was killed in an airstrike last Friday

Fox News reports:

A key Al Qaeda in Iraq leader described as the group’s “religious emir” was killed in a U.S. airstrike hours before two American soldiers went missing and in the same area, the military said Tuesday. Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani, or Sheik Mansour, and two foreign fighters were killed as they tried to flee in a vehicle near the town of Youssifiyah, in the so-called Sunni “Triangle of Death.”

U.S. coalition forces had been tracking al-Mashhadani for some time, American military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said in announcing his death. He said al-Mashhadani was an Iraqi, 35 to 37 years old, and that one of the men killed with him was an Al Qaeda cell leader identified as Abu Tariq.

ABC has additional details:

The US military says it has killed the “right-hand man” of slain Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Major General William Caldwell says Iraqi Mansur Suleiman al-Mashhadani was killed on Friday by US forces in Yusifiyah, south of Baghdad. “We do know that Sheikh Mansur was a key leader in Al Qaeda in Iraq with excellent religious, military and leadership credentials within that organisation,” General Caldwell said. He describes him as Zarqawi’s right-hand man and a liaison between Al Qaeda and tribes in the restive area south of Baghdad.

The Mashhadani are a major tribe of Sunni Arabs.

“He was tied to the senior leadership, including having relationships with both Zarqawi and al-Masri,” General Caldwell said, referring to Abu Ayub al-Masri, whom the US military claim to be Zarqawi’s successor. “We do think that his death will significantly continue to impact on the ability of this organisation to regenerate and organise itself.” General Caldwell says Sheikh Mansur was “multifunctional” with responsibilities including spiritual advice, recruitment, leadership and media operations.

A large framed picture showing Sheikh Mansur before and after he was killed has been displayed by General Caldwell in the same manner as a picture of Zarqawi’s dead face after he was killed in a US air strike on June 7 near the restive city of Baquba. One part of the composite picture showed him clean shaven with a thin moustache and wearing a black T-shirt, while the other showed a dust covered, bruised and blood-stained face.

The long-term effects remain to be seen and, certainly, dead terrorist leaders are a good thing in and of themselves. So far, however, there does not appear to be any dimunition in terrorist activity.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.