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Media Accents The Negative In Al Qaeda Capture

From their allies at the Associated Press:


US: Top al-Qaida in Iraq Figure Captured

BAGHDAD – 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…

“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.”

In Web postings, the Islamic State of Iraq has identified its leader as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, with al-Masri as minister of war. There are no known photos of al-Baghdadi.

Bergner said al-Mashhadani had told interrogators that al-Baghdadi is a “fictional role” created by al-Masri and that an actor is used for audio recordings of speeches posted on the Web.

“In his words, the Islamic State of Iraq is a front organization that masks the foreign influence and leadership within al-Qaida in Iraq in an attempt to put an Iraqi face on the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq,” Bergner said…

The degree of control and supervision between bin Laden’s clique and the Iraq branch has been the subject of debate, with some private analysts believing the foreign-based leadership plays a minor role in day to day operations.

However, the U.S. military has released captured letters from time to time, suggesting the foreign-based leaders provide at least broad direction…

Not to be outdone, Reuters ran with the “mythical figure” angle in their headline and lede:

A briefing slide released by the Multi-National Force – Iraq on July 18, 2007. The white box represents the position of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, which was purportedly set up last year.

Senior Qaeda figure in Iraq a myth: U.S. military

Wed Jul 18, 2007

By Dean Yates

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A senior operative for al Qaeda in Iraq who was caught this month has told his U.S. military interrogators a prominent al Qaeda-led group is just a front and its leader fictitious, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.

Brigadier-General Kevin Bergner told a news conference that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, which was purportedly set up last year, did not exist.

The Islamic State of Iraq was established to try to put an Iraqi face on what is a foreign-driven network, Bergner said. The name Baghdadi means the person hails from the Iraqi capital.

Bergner said the information came from an operative called Khalid al-Mashadani who was caught on July 4 and who he said was an intermediary to Osama bin Laden.

He said Mashadani was believed to be the most senior Iraqi in the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda in Iraq network.

“In his words, the Islamic State of Iraq is a front organization that masks the foreign influence and leadership within al Qaeda in Iraq in an attempt to put an Iraqi face on the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq,” Bergner said.

U.S. military officials in recent weeks have been pressed to explain the link between al Qaeda in Iraq and bin Laden’s global network given the military’s heightened focus on al Qaeda in Iraq as the biggest threat to the country… 

We certainly don’t want the public to think that the “surge” is working and that the top bad guys are being captured.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, July 18th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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