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.