Iraq Terrorist Abu Omar al-Baghdadi Arrested
CNN Breaking News: Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq, has been arrested in western Baghdad, the Iraqi Interior Ministry tells CNN.
UPDATE: More from AP
The leader of the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, has been captured in a raid west of Baghdad, an Iraqi military spokesman said Friday. U.S. officials had no confirmation of the statement by Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesman of the Baghdad security operation.
Al-Moussawi said al-Baghdadi was captured Friday in a raid in Abu Ghraib on the western outskirts of Baghdad. “One of the terrorists who was arrested with him confessed that the one in our hands is al-Baghdadi,” al-Moussawi said. A prominent Iraqi Shiite close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also said al-Baghdadi had been captured. But he spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to release the information.
Al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, has been identified in statements posted on Islamic extremist Web sites as the head of the Islamic State, which was proclaimed last year after the death of the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Al-Baghdadi was said to have headed the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an alliance of al-Qaida and other jihadist organizations, which was set up last year to downplay the role of foreigners in the Iraqi insurgency.
The name first surfaced after al-Zarqawi’s death, when the Mujahedeen Shura Council posted a condolence message on a Web site used by militants in Iraq. “As for you the slaves of the cross (U.S.-led coalition forces), the grandsons of Ibn al-Alqami (Shiites), and every infidel of the Sunnis, we can’t wait to sever your necks with our swords,” the message read. It was signed by Abdullah bin Rashid al-Baghdadi, who was identified as the council leader.
As always, the death or capture of a single terrorist leader (assuming this report is ultimately substantiated) won’t have a substantial impact on its own. To the extent, however, this is an indication that Iraqi citizens are providing useful intelligence on terrorist activity and that the security regime in Baghdad is getting more sophisticated, it’s good news.