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Thursday, May 08, 2008

al-Qaeda Leader In Iraq Arrested

[Update] Despite what the Iraq's Defense Ministry spokesman said, US officials say it is not Abu Ayyab al-Masri.

Another major blow dealt to al-Qaeda in Iraq comes with the arrest of Abu Ayyab al-Masri, an Egyptian also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, in the northern city of Mosul.

The US Military is in the process of confirming his identity but Iraq's Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Mohammed al-Askari told Reuters the head of the local province's security operations had told him that Masri had been detained.

Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf said an associate of Masri who had been detained in an earlier operation took security forces late on Wednesday to where the al Qaeda leader was hiding in Mosul.

After being detained, Masri had confessed to being the al Qaeda in Iraq leader, Khalaf said, adding his identity still had to be confirmed.

If his identity is confirmed and officials are sure they have him, then this is a major blow for an already beaten down al-Qaeda in Iraq.