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.

Abu Ayyub al-Masri Photo Reported Killed Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri. New Al-Qaeda leaders appear to be emerging in Pakistan near the Afghan border, casting doubt on the idea of a sustained weakening of the global terrorist network.(AFP/TV Grab) 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.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Iraq War, Terrorism, , , ,
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.

Comments

  1. The Heretik says:

    Number One with a Bullet…

    The official or not so official word in Iraq is that the latest number one guy in al Qaeda in Iraq is dead. Or not so dead. Byonara, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.
    “This does not represent an official government announcement but is only information that…

  2. legion says:

    We’re doing DNA testing over there so we don’t have to do it here…

  3. Al-Qaeda Chief in Iraq Killed?…

    (graphic courtesy of Airborn Combat Engineer)Iraqi government and media are reporting that Al-Qaeda leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri has been killed. Pajamas Media will be tracking throughout the day… [New Items on Top] Very little will change, says James J…

  4. Tlaloc says:

    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.

    Surely it will happen. The issue is that it would happen a lot faster if they didn’t have a common cause, i.e. us, staring them in the face.

    When we get out of dodge a lot of factions currently working together are going to pull out the long knives.

  5. When we get out of dodge a lot of factions currently working together are going to pull out the long knives.

    Yeah, and then it can be Rwanda or Darfur all over again.

  6. Tlaloc says:

    Yeah, and then it can be Rwanda or Darfur all over again.

    Possibly. Bad stuff happens in the world. We have neither the capacity nor the right to fix all of it.

    But the bad stuff also opens the possibility of good stuff following. How would US history have proceeded if a foreign superpower had intervened in our civil war? Sometimes blood has to be spilled to make progress. Sucks, but it’s true. And the only ones who can make that progress are the people there. It’s them that have to do the bleeding (in both senses of the term).

  7. Jim Henley says:

    This is “Dance, Monkey, Dance!” stuff, James, and they tricked you into your soft shoes. On Mission Accomplished Day they just happened to come up with a report that al-Masri is probably you know dead though we don’t have a body but we’ll verify it if we can but isn’t this great news though he’s probably not actually dead.

    Ask me what the –

    Timing!

  8. How would US history have proceeded if a foreign superpower had intervened in our civil war?

    As it happens, President Lincoln had to put a lot of effort into making sure that didn’t happen. England and its mills, in particular, were in desperate need for the south’s cotton and for that reason, as well as a few others, considered recognizing the Southern Confederacy, which certainly would have been considered at the time as joining the war on the other side given the blockade the Union had imposed on the South. It was only with the Emancipation Proclamation that England was dissuaded from recognizing the Southern Confederacy, primarily due to its own abolitionist zeal and sense of morality.

    President Lincoln did the right thing, but as is often the case, for reasons which are much more complex than they first appear.

  9. James Joyner says:

    They tricked you into your soft shoes.

    Well, except that I discounted the story in three different ways in the first sentence…

  10. James, I think your qualifiers were in the second sentence, though I digress in pedantry.

    I hope it is true, not just for the obvious reasons, but also because we can take some comfort in knowing that are enemies are that much more uncomfortable with who they can trust as they lay down their heads each night.

    Oh, and one more thing, when Tlaloc wrote:

    Sometimes blood has to be spilled to make progress. Sucks, but it’s true.

    That seems to be a restatement of Duranty’s omelette making aphorism, which isn’t exactly a positive association.

  11. Tlaloc says:

    That seems to be a restatement of Duranty’s omelette making aphorism, which isn’t exactly a positive association.

    It’s not our omlette to make, or not make. It’s not our eggs, nor our skillet. In fact it’s not even our kitchen.

    So let’s get out of our neighbor’s kitchen and let them decide for themselves if they want an omlette.

    And yes if they cook recklessly so that it threatens to burn down the neighborhood we may have to put on our volunteer virefighter hat and put out the blaze.

    We’ll deal with that if it happens.

  12. Michael says:

    Maybe we should just give them all pancakes.

    It’s just a thought.

  13. legion says:

    “Welcome to the American Socialist Kitchen. Today, you will all have pancakes. Tomorrow, you will all have Democracy. You’re welcome.”