Insurgent leader reported dead


Summary

Iraq's deputy interior minister says US and Iraqi forces have killed the head of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq.

The Islamic State of Iraq is believed to be an umbrella group of Sunni insurgents which includes Al-Qaeda.

Minister Hussein Ali Kamal said the insurgent leader known as Abu Omaral-Baghdadi was killed in north western Baghdad.

"His body is under the control of the interior ministry. His body has been identified." Mr Kamal said.

Separately, US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Garver said the military would hold a news conference later on Thursday to announce a "recent success against a senior leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq".

Mr Kamal said Mr Baghdadi was killed in a clash on Wednesday in the Ghazaliyah district of north western Baghdad, a flashpoint district on one of the city's many sectarian faultlines, not far from the airport.

His death would be first major success of a 10-week-old joint US and Iraqi security operation, which has seen tens of thousands of extra troops and police flood the war-torn capital in a bid to quell sectarian bloodshed.

The "Islamic State of Iraq" and Al-Qaeda have been blamed for some of the bloodiest recent attacks on Shiite civilians, and Mr Baghdadi's umbrella group claimed responsibility for murdering dozens of kidnapped police.

The group also claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on Iraq's parliament that killed one MP deep inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

News of the militant leader's apparent demise comes only two days after the Iraqi interior ministry and a Sunni tribal coalition claimed that Al-Qaeda in Iraq's leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, had been killed.

This has still not been confirmed — and Lieutenant Colonel Garver was at pains to point out that Thursday's news conference was "not about al-Masri" — but if it is true the Sunni Islamist insurgency in Iraq would have lost both its top leaders.

Mr Baghdadi's name first came to the public eye in April 2006, when he was anointed leader of a new organisation uniting anti-US insurgent groups by the then Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zaraqawi.

According to experts on the insurgency, rising dissatisfaction among rebel groups with Jordanian-born Mr Zarqawi's brutal tactics targeting civilians spurred the formation of what was then known as the Mujahedeen Shura Council.

With Mr Zarqawi's death in a US air strike in June, Mr Baghdadi (whose name means "Omar's father from Baghdad") became the pre-eminent leader of the insurgency in an effort to give it a more Iraqi face.

Mr Zarqawi's successor in Al-Qaeda, Egyptian-born Mr Masri, was designated as Baghdadi's "war minister". On October 15, the alliance renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq to confront de facto Shiite and Kurdish states, according to Islamist websites.


Iraq's deputy interior minister says US and Iraqi forces have killed the head of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq.

The Islamic State of Iraq is believed to be an umbrella group of Sunni insurgents which includes Al-Qaeda.

Minister Hussein Ali Kamal said the insurgent leader known as Abu Omaral-Baghdadi was killed in north western Baghdad.

"His body is under the control of the interior ministry. His body has been identified." Mr Kamal said.

Separately, US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Garver said the military would hold a news conference later on Thursday to announce a "recent success against a senior leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq".

Mr Kamal said Mr Baghdadi was killed in a clash on Wednesday in the Ghazaliyah district of north western Baghdad, a flashpoint district on one of the city's many sectarian faultlines, not far from the airport.

His death would be first major success of a 10-week-old joint US and Iraqi security operation, which has seen tens of thousands of extra troops and police flood the war-torn capital in a bid to quell sectarian bloodshed.

The "Islamic State of Iraq" and Al-Qaeda have been blamed for some of the bloodiest recent attacks on Shiite civilians, and Mr Baghdadi's umbrella group claimed responsibility for murdering dozens of kidnapped police.

The group also claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on Iraq's parliament that killed one MP deep inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

News of the militant leader's apparent demise comes only two days after the Iraqi interior ministry and a Sunni tribal coalition claimed that Al-Qaeda in Iraq's leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, had been killed.

This has still not been confirmed — and Lieutenant Colonel Garver was at pains to point out that Thursday's news conference was "not about al-Masri" — but if it is true the Sunni Islamist insurgency in Iraq would have lost both its top leaders.

Mr Baghdadi's name first came to the public eye in April 2006, when he was anointed leader of a new organisation uniting anti-US insurgent groups by the then Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zaraqawi.

According to experts on the insurgency, rising dissatisfaction among rebel groups with Jordanian-born Mr Zarqawi's brutal tactics targeting civilians spurred the formation of what was then known as the Mujahedeen Shura Council.

With Mr Zarqawi's death in a US air strike in June, Mr Baghdadi (whose name means "Omar's father from Baghdad") became the pre-eminent leader of the insurgency in an effort to give it a more Iraqi face.

Mr Zarqawi's successor in Al-Qaeda, Egyptian-born Mr Masri, was designated as Baghdadi's "war minister". On October 15, the alliance renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq to confront de facto Shiite and Kurdish states, according to Islamist websites.