May 08, 2008

AQI #1 Busted (Updated - "Not!")

Iraqi security forces say they have detained the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. Abu Ayyab al-Masri, an Egyptian also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, was reportedly arrested after a captured associate tipped off Iraqi police that al-Masri was sleeping in a house in Mosul. No official word yet from the U.S. military, and it is worth noting that Iraq's Interior Ministry said they killed al-Masri last May, but that report turned out to be erroneous. Nevertheless, if he really has been detained this time, this is obviously big news. Although we know from the Zarqawi experience that chopping off the head does not kill the organism, the arrest could generate a lot of useful intelligence. It would also be a significant feather in Maliki's cap and could help tee up the impending Mosul offensive to clear out remnants of AQI.

Update: Oops they did it again. CNN is now reporting that the guy the ISF captured is not al-Masri. This follows a pattern. Since al-Masri took over AQI in 2006, "Iraqi officials have reported his death three times, his capture twice and a mortal wounding once." As Kilo says in the comments, "He's the fkn roadrunner apparently."