Iraq Claims Al Qaeda in Iraq Leader al-Masri Dead
The Iraqi government claims al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri has been killed.
Iraqi officials have received reports that the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq was killed by Sunni tribesmen, but the chief government spokesman said Tuesday the information has not been confirmed. The statement by spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh followed a welter of reports from other Iraqi officials that Abu Ayyub al-Masri had been killed. Iraqi officials have released similar reports in the past, only to acknowledge later they were inaccurate.
U.S. officials said they could not confirm the reported death.
Al-Dabbagh told Al-Arabiya that word of al-Masri’s purported death was based on “intelligence information,” adding that “DNA tests should be done and we have to bring someone to identify the body.”
It strikes me that 1) al-Masri is likely not dead; 2) the Iraqi government should hold off on making such pronouncements until they have more evidence; and 3) even if al-Masri is dead, very little will change.
UPDATE: Steven Taylor, cites a BBC report, makes an important distinction between this an the host of other dead or reportedly-dead terrorist leaders: “US officials have long talked of friction between al-Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups. The reported killing would suggest there are real tensions for US and Iraqi officials to exploit.”
The optimists among us have been predicting that, way prematurely it turns out, for years. It would be nice if it finally happens but I shan’t hold my breath absent decidedly more examples.