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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Abu Ayyub al-Masri Dead or Alive?

[Updates Below]

A glance over at memeorandum shows that the Interior Ministry says Abu Ayyub al-Masri is dead but they have been wrong before in their enthusiasm to make announcements.

The media says he is dead as shown in the Guardian, AP, CNN and other media outlets.

Unconfirmed reports that al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri has been killed come from local tribes and not Iraq's intelligence services or military, an Iraqi government spokesman said Tuesday.

Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said the government won't be able to confirm al-Masri's death until it makes an identification of the body.

"Iraqi security forces do not have the body," al-Dabbagh said on Iraqi state TV. "Iraqi security forces and Multi-National Forces are trying to retrieve the body for visual identification and DNA tests."

Unconfirmed as of yet.

For those that do not know who Abu Ayyub al-Masri actually is, he is the man that took over the leadership of al-Qaeda in Iraq when Zarqawi was blown to bits.

# An American military spokesman in Iraq identified "Abu al-Masri" as the likely successor to Abu Musab Zarqawi after Zarqawi was killed on June 7, 2006. Military officials later confirmed he is the same as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, a most-wanted terrorist in Iraq for over a year.

# On Feb. 11, 2005, U.S. Central Command announced the Iraqi government had issued a warrant for his arrest, and the U.S. government initially offered a reward of $50,000 for information leading to his capture. The reward was later raised to $5 million.

# He is the last remaining original member of the Mujahideen Shura Council.

# He has manufactured explosives in Iraq, particularly car and truck bombs. He has also helped foreign fighters move from Syria to Baghdad, and oversaw al-Qaeda's activities in southern Iraq.

# He also arranged meetings between Zarqawi and Ansar al-Islam commander Umar Baziyani.

# He has been a terrorist since 1982, when he joined Ayman al-Zawahri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

If the Guardian story is accurate than this is very good news on more than one level.

The al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, has been killed in a fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, the interior ministry claimed today.

Brigadier General Abdul Kareem Khalaf told Reuters: "We have definite intelligence reports that al-Masri was killed today."

Another source in the ministry said al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, had been killed. Brig Gen Khalaf said Iraqi and US forces were not involved. The US military said it could not confirm the death.

The reason I say this is good news on more than one level is, from the reports I am reading so far, it seems the insurgents went after al-Masri from a tip given to them from the Sunni's, which fits with what we have been telling you about the different factions of Iraq being completely fed up al-Qaeda in Iraq killing their civilians, blaming the other factions and doing everything in their ower to create civil war.

The Iraqi's have said ENOUGH.

Pajamas Media is updating the story as new information comes out, so keep an eye out over there and I will also be updating throughout the day.

Captain's Quarters puts it this way:

When will we know for sure? When the American military announces it, we can rely on the information, and not before. However, if it turns out to be true, it will show just how badly the tables have turned on AQI. We captured the man who would have replaced al-Masri last year, captured 17 of their people just three days ago, and now possibly have found the body of al-Masri himself. The means of his death will send a message to AQI from the Iraqi people, and I guarantee the last word will be Off.

So we wait and we see if this is al-Masri and to find out if reports are accurate and it was Sunni's that turned him in and killed him.

If so, al-Qaeda in Iraq has more to worry about than US and Coalition forces, it seems the tribal leaders and even the insurgents are targeting al-Qaeda just as al-Qaeda used to target them.

Talk about irony.

His death will not help Iraq with its politic reform except in an indirect way, if the insurgents are targeting al-Qaeda because of al-Qaeda's nasty little habit of targeting the Iraqi civilians that helps OUR forces to get the breathing room needed for the Iraqi politicians to do their job.

Such a complex situation but if, and I reapeat IF this story is true, then it is good news all around with no downside except for Baghdad Reid and his band of merry defeatists.

In the meantime this isn't the only good news coming from Iraq today, from the Multi National Forces:

5 terrorists killed, 20 suspected terrorists detained

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces killed five terrorists and detained 20 suspected terrorists Tuesday during overnight raids targeting senior leaders within the al-Qaeda in Iraq network.

Intelligence reports led Coalition forces to targets associated with senior al-Qaeda leaders west of Taji Tuesday morning. During an operation there, terrorists engaged ground forces with small arms fire. Coalition forces used appropriate self-defense measures and engaged the armed men, killing five.

Six suspected terrorists were detained.

Coalition forces found weapons and grenades, which they destroyed on site.

North of Samarra, Coalition forces detained seven individuals with alleged ties to senior leaders in Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Five suspected terrorists were detained in a separate Coalition forces raid west of Taji, and two suspected terrorists were detained in an operation in Mosul.

“These operations will affect al-Qaeda in Iraq’s ability to operate effectively against the people of Iraq, and provide us with more information to disrupt their activities,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson.

Poor al-Qaeda (NOT) seems to be getting hit on every front in Iraq, but then again, acoording to the Democrats, al-Qaeda isn't REALLY a problem in Iraq huh?

Reactions to this news around the blogosphere is tempered because the reports are unconfirmed, but here is a quick roundup:

Jules Crittenden:

Abu Ayyub al-Masri dead? Would be good news, but not the first time we’ve heard that. CNN reports its coming from Sunni tribesmen that fought a gunbattle with al-Qaeda, and no government troops have seen the body, which could actually be better news than who got killed: Sunni tribes acting on their own to take out the trash.

I really like how that guy puts things!!!!!

Hot Air:

US sources can’t confirm his death for certain yet, so we will update this post as soon as we know more. Obviously, if true, this is huge news and cause for great celebration. There have been some major arrests and deaths in the war on terror this week, but al-Masri would nonetheless be the biggest fish in a long time.

Counterterrorism Blog
brings an update with a statement from Al-Qaeda's "Islamic State of Iraq:

*UPDATE* (11:30am eastern): Al-Qaida's "Islamic State of Iraq" has now issued a formal statement denying the death of Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, who they describe as the Islamic State's "Minister of War." Elsewhere, Al-Qaida supporters have suggested that the initial report of his demise was part of a desperate scheme concocted by the Iraq government aimed at forcing al-Muhajir to surface and identify himself.

Say Anything gets the quote of the day:

Al-Masri Gets His Virgins

I hope they all look like Rosie O'Donnell, sound like Hillary Rodham Clinton, and have the personal hygiene of Sheryl Crow. Heaven would turn to hell on a dime - for eternity.

Now THAT one cracked me up!!!!

Jihad Watch has good analysis of why Jihadist would kill Jihadist, matches up with what I stated above:

"There has been increasing friction between Al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups, particularly over Al Qaeda's indiscriminate killing of civilians in Iraq." The problem here is that those civilians are Muslim. Jihadists have often made the case that non-Muslim civilians, particularly in Israel but elsewhere also, are not actually civilians at all, and can lawfully be killed. It is harder (but not impossible -- the late Zarqawi wrote a long piece about this a few years back, which in itself was one indication that Al-Qaeda was even then getting heat from other Muslims for its tactics) to make this case about fellow Muslims.


Rhymes with Right asks:

And isn't it great that what we have here is these criminals killing each other? And now that we see the internal divisions splitting the terrorists in Iraq, do we really want to adopt the Democrats' "flee in terror" strategy?

Speaking of Democrats, we also have a video, hat tip to Take Our Country Back and posted over at Gazing at the Flag with a Message to Harry (Baghdad) Reid from our Soldiers in Iraq.

Obviously the soldiers don't agree with Baghdad Reid at all and I do believe when they get home from Iraq, they will be "up in his face" mad and demanding accountability from Reid for encouraging the enemy these brave men and women are fighting.

If this news about Abu Ayyub al-Masri's death IS confirmed, I wonder if we should be sending our condolences to the Democrats for losing one of their greatest allies?

Food for thought.

[Update] Fox News is reporting that the body has been turned over to the US forces for identification.

Risha said that seven terrorists, including al-Masri and three other foreigners, were killed in the battle that took place between Tarmiyah and Samarra north of Baghdad. He said al-Masri's body was turned over to American forces who had arrived on the scene following the fighting.

Now we wait for the DNA tests to come back in...

[Update] Pajamas Media has some interesting background:

If he is dead, who killed him? Here media reporting appears confused, by Pajamas exclusive sources can add some insight. CNN and others are reporting that local Sunni tribes from Fallujah killed him. The New York Times, relying on Iraqi government sources, said that al Masri was killed by rival insurgent groups.

These reports are misleading or incomplete. Most likely, our sources tell us, al Masri was felled by former insurgents who have come over to the American side. “Those would be the Albu Issa, which have been subjected to an incredibly brutal campaign by AQI that has included the use of chlorine bombs in Amariyah,” one official said. The Albu Issa tribe is allied with the Coalition are part of Sheikh Abdul Sattar’s Anbar Salvation Front, which unites 26 out of the 31 Anbar province tribes against al Qaeda.

“The US is working with a number of former insurgent groups including 1920 Revolution Brigade to fight AQI in Anbar,” the source adds. “Bill Roggio has reported in the past that many of the Anbar Salvation Front members are former 1920 Revolution Brigade or Islamic Army of Iraq fighters who have now joined the Coalition to fight AQI as part of Sheikh Abdul Sattar’s amnesty program.”

Read the whole thing....

Whether al-Masri is actually dead or not is secondary here to the fact that former insurgents in considerable numbers are now on America's side.... that, in and of itself is good news!!!!!..

[Update] Red State, on the ground in Iraq, says that everyone there seems pretty sure of al-Masri's death, but we are still waiting for confirmation.

[Update] DEFINITELY take this one with a couple grains of salt but I am updating as the news comes out, al-Jareeza (now ya know why I said grains of salt) is reporting that it was conflicting factions of al-Qaeda themselves that killed (possibly) al-Masri, which woud actually even be BETTER news if we have al-Qaeda to the point where they are killing each other!!!!

"Some information... needs confirmation, but this information is very strong," said Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf, interior ministry operations director.

"The clashes took place among themselves. There were clashes within the groups of al-Qaeda. He was liquidated by them."

Again, we still do not have confirmation from the US forces yet, but the surrounding news, even without al-Masri's death is looking pretty damn good.