Islamic State of Iraq Leader Abu Shahid Captured

Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, aka Abu Shahid, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq has been captured.

The U.S. command said Wednesday the highest-ranking Iraqi in the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq has been arrested, adding that information from him indicates the group’s foreign-based leadership wields considerable influence over the Iraqi chapter.

Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, also known as Abu Shahid, was captured in Mosul on July 4, said Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a military spokesman. “Al-Mashhadani is believed to be the most senior Iraqi in the al-Qaida in Iraq network,” Bergner said. He said al-Mashhadani was a close associate of Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born head of al-Qaida in Iraq. Bergner said al-Mashhadani served as an intermediary between al-Masri and Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri. “In fact, communication between the senior al-Qaida leadership and al-Masri frequently went through al-Mashhadani,” Bergner said.

“Along with al-Masri, al-Mashhadani co-founded a virtual organization in cyberspace called the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006,” Bergner said. “The Islamic State of Iraq is the latest efforts by al-Qaida to market itself and its goal of imposing a Taliban-like state on the Iraqi people.”

TPM‘s David Kurtz questions the timing, noting that it’s rather convenient that the capture took place on the 4th but the announcement happened to come on the heel’s of yesterday’s official announcement of the National Intelligence Estimate finding that al Qaeda has made a huge comeback. Skepticism is warranted, to be sure, although there may in fact be legitimate intelligence and counterterrorism reasons for the delay.

Still, as Jawa Report‘s Howie points out, this is great news: “This man was the the leader of the infamous Ansar al-Sunnah before he joined ISI. Ansar al-Sunnah is a particularly brutal group of terrorists who are famous for beheading hostages on video.”

As always, it bears noting that capturing senior leaders doesn’t end the fight. Saddam Hussein is dead, along with his sons and many of his senior staff, including the infamous Chemical Ali. So are Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and more “number three leaders of al Qaeda” than you can shake a stick at.

Still, it’s hard to see the killing or capture of mass murderers as anything but good news. Presumably, most Democrats want to defeat al Qaeda, regardless of the fact that it would provide a boost in President Bush’s poll numbers. So, let’s rejoice in good news on that front on a bipartisan basis.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Terrorism, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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. Andy says:

    I wonder how many times this particular individual has been captured and/or killed.

  2. markm says:

    No matter how you slice it, it’s better he’s captured or dead than alive.

    (What was his mom and dads thinking when they chose is names…sheesh)

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    Of course there is a legitimate reason for delaying the announcement. It’s called interrogation followed by rounding up the people he reveals. The value in capturing these people is less the ‘prestige’ effect, and more the plans and others they can reveal.

  4. Jeez, hasn’t questioning the timing jumped the shark as the default method of challenging motives whenever there might be a bit of good news?

  5. Michael says:

    No matter how you slice it, it’s better he’s captured or dead than alive.

    Unless whomever replaced him is more competent than he is.

  6. markm says:

    “Unless whomever replaced him is more competent than he is.”

    That’s probably the case but it’s not a get one guy and win type deal. We will be capturing/killing them for a long long time. I doubt they’ll change their ways of thinking.

  7. Michael says:

    We will be capturing/killing them for a long long time. I doubt they’ll change their ways of thinking.

    Maybe not their thinking, but it certainly will change their tactics, and that doesn’t usually work out too well for us.

  8. markm says:

    “Maybe not their thinking, but it certainly will change their tactics, and that doesn’t usually work out too well for us.”

    No doubt. They have been in constant change since the start. Just as we correct for the change they change tactics again. Hence we’ll be capturing/killing them for a long long time. AQ is in offense mode all the time. We have no choice but to keep fighting them.

    It would sure be easier if AQ had something to lose.

  9. Evolution in warfare is as old as warfare. Saying their better and smarter and we shouldn’t even try because they’ll adapt is to ignore the fact that we also adapt, improvise and overcome, and we do it a lot better than they do.

    The real problem is that Al Qaeda are only interested in death and destruction, which is at least one hundred times easier than what we are trying to do.

  10. Michael says:

    Evolution in warfare is as old as warfare. Saying their better and smarter and we shouldn’t even try because they’ll adapt is to ignore the fact that we also adapt, improvise and overcome, and we do it a lot better than they do.

    Better? Not in the way that matters. The insurgents in Iraq are adapting far faster than US forces, and in insurgent warfare, speed in adapting is usually the most important aspect, usually far more important than organization and available force which is what the US does ‘better’.

    The real problem is that Al Qaeda are only interested in death and destruction, which is at least one hundred times easier than what we are trying to do.

    I agree with you there, and this is usually the case when dealing with an insurgency. The problem is that we’re trying to be 100 times better at reaching our goal than they are at reaching theirs, instead of changing the situation to make our goals easier or their goals harder.

  11. I think you are selling our forces short, but your mileage may vary.

  12. Michael says:

    I think you are selling our forces short, but your mileage may vary.

    Saying that an 18 wheeler won’t win the Indy500 isn’t selling the truck short. Making the 18 wheeler bigger won’t improve it’s chances either.

    My point was that we’re either using the wrong tool for the job at hand, or trying to do the wrong job for the tools we have. If we don’t change either, it doesn’t matter how good the tools are at doing the job they’re designed for.

  13. LJD says:

    Oh, I see. AQ is improvising and adapting all the time, but our military is merely a “tool deisgned for a job”.
    The situation sounds so hopeless, I recommend you and Antin Sand put yourselves out of your misery.

  14. Michael says:

    Oh, I see. AQ is improvising and adapting all the time, but our military is merely a “tool deisgned for a job”.
    The situation sounds so hopeless, I recommend you and Antin Sand put yourselves out of your misery.

    Again, how can that possibly be read into my post? They’re all tools designed for a job, and they’re all adapting their design for new jobs. My point was that Al Qaeda is better designed for fighting an insurgency that the US military is designed for fighting a counter-insurgency.

  15. LJD says:

    My point was that Al Qaeda is better designed for fighting an insurgency that the US military is designed for fighting a counter-insurgency.

    Correction: Your assumption was…

    Unless whomever replaced him is more competent than he is.

    The insurgents in Iraq are adapting far faster than US forces,

    I don’t care how you feel about the war or the President. The double standard for the abilities of AQ vs. our troops is well worn out.

    Aside from adaptation, you forgot to mention that AQ doesn’t have our media and comments like yours working against them. Thanks for fighting for the other side.

  16. Michael says:

    Aside from adaptation, you forgot to mention that AQ doesn’t have our media and comments like yours working against them. Thanks for fighting for the other side.

    Jesus Christ, I think I could have said I like motherhood and apple pie, and you would take that to mean I support Al Qaeda.

    I don’t care how you feel about the war or the President. The double standard for the abilities of AQ vs. our troops is well worn out.

    I didn’t say anything about how I feel about this war or this President. And even if I did, that alone wouldn’t invalidate my point, only facts would invalidate my point. Emotional appeals do not change facts, and they don’t solve problems. If you think that “support our troops” means “just make believe everything is ok”, then you do everyone a disservice.

  17. LJD says:

    What is clear is your obvious double standard for the abilities of our troops vs. AQ, and your anti-war bias, regardless of the facts on the ground.

    So, Mr. miltary expert, where exactly do you derive all of your “facts” from?

  18. LJD says:

    … I only ask because your bias shows that you seem to not know WTF you’re talking about.
    e.g.
    the typical responses to good news like a capture or killing of a leader by saying “He will only be replaced”

    and

    saying their ability to resist is stronger than our ability to quell the violence (so it’s all just a waste of time).

    and, oh yeah,

    your refusal to acknowledge that we are, and ought to be engaged in a lon-term struggle to elimnate this threat.

    I posted your quotes. You know what you said. You want to talk about facts, you might want to stay away from the fairy tales the MSM has crafted for you.

  19. LJD says:

    The problem is that we’re trying to be 100 times better at reaching our goal than they are at reaching theirs, instead of changing the situation to make our goals easier or their goals harder.

    Great. Nice vague solution. Have you been talking to Reid and Pelosi? Or was it Clinton?

  20. Michael says:

    LJD, killing an enemy commander is only good for us if it actually causes a disruption for the enemy. If killing an enemy commander put a smarter person in his place, that makes the enemy stronger, and is by definition bad for us. This isn’t bias, it just doesn’t automatically accept your assumption that Al Qaeda already has the best people in those positions. Instead, I assume that Al Qaeda is also effected by the Dilbert principle.

    I also have not said that we are incapable of stopping the violence, I said that we are not trying to stop the violence, we are trying in intercept the violence, which is all together different.

    I also acknowledge that we are and will continue to be involved in a long term engagement with terrorists around the world. I simply acknowledge that “kill them all” is an unrealistic goal, and “fight them over there so we don’t fight them over here” assumes that they cannot do both, while they have proven multiple times since 2003 that they can in fact do both.

    And that wasn’t a solution, it wasn’t intended to be a solution, it was an analysis of a situation. There are many ways we can change that situation, I doubt you’d be very interested in hearing them from me though.