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Al-Qaeda Chief In Iraq Reported Killed

Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, aka Abu Ayyub al-Masri (undated) (epa) October 5, 2006 -- Reports from Iraq say Iraq's Al-Qaeda leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri (aka Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir), may have been killed in a U.S. raid near the town of Al-Hadithah.

Al-Arabiyah television quoted Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Major General Husayn Kamal as saying officials are awaiting DNA tests to see if al-Masri was indeed killed in the October 4 raid.

U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson today said the military does not believe it killed al-Masri, but that DNA tests are being conducted on those killed in the raid.

On October 1, Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i said security forces are getting close to finding al-Masri, and that his "days are numbered." Al-Masri replaced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in June.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi(undated AFP file photo)

COMMITTED TO TERROR: Jordan-born Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi has been among the most visible and ruthless leaders of Iraq's post-Saddam Hussein insurgency. In a tape released earlier this month, al-Zaqawi called on Iraqi Sunnis to fight against Shi'a and labeled Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani an "atheist."
Insurgents loyal to Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda-affiliated organization have regained control over much of Al-Anbar Governorate, and are posing a major challenge to U.S. and Iraqi forces. A local security force established by tribesmen under an agreement with the U.S. military has all but ceased operating, after nearly a dozen tribal leaders were assassinated in revenge attacks by insurgents loyal to al-Zarqawi's Mujahedin Shura Council since January. Local tribal leaders now say they are afraid to be seen associating with U.S. forces, lest they be targeted by insurgents....(more)


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THE COMPLETE PICTURE: Click on the image to see RFE/RL's complete coverage of events in Iraq and that country's ongoing transition.