May 03, 2007


The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq has been killed:

US and Iraqi forces have killed the head of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella group of Sunni insurgents which includes Al-Qaeda, Iraq's deputy interior minister said Thursday.

Minister Hussein Ali Kamal said the insurgent leader known as Omar al-Baghdadi was killed in western Baghdad. "His body is under the control of the interior ministry. His body has been identified," he told AFP.

Separately, US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Garver said the military would hold a news conference later on Thursday to announce a "recent success against a senior leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq."

Unlike the claimed but unconfirmed killing of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who was reportedly killed earlier this week in a firefight with one of a number of Sunni tribal militias formerly aligned with al Qaeda, who have now joined with Coalition forces, al-Baghdadi's body has been claimed and apparently identified.

For the roundup of this story, go to Pajamas Media.

al-Baghdadi's death is properly categorized as a "big fish;" al-Masri, as Dan Riehl noted, once declared allegiance to al-Baghdadi.

This news comes as Evan Kohlmann notes that the al Qaeda coalition continues to fracture:

In the wake of the recent and very public rift between the Sunni Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) and Al-Qaida's "Islamic State", yet more cracks are suddenly beginning to show in the unified jihadist coalition that Al-Qaida has been trying to assemble in Sunni regions of Iraq. Today, the IAI--along with factions from at least two other predominant Sunni militant groups, the Mujahideen Army and the notorious Ansar al-Sunnah Army--have officially announced the formation of their own separate political coalition: "The Reformation and Jihad Front" (RJF). This new front would seem to be a direct challenge to the authority of Al-Qaida's "Islamic State" and is said to enjoy support from Sunni Islamist circles (like Ansar al-Sunnah) which have, in the past, worked closely with Al-Qaida.

Kohlmann goes on to note that while the RJF is no ally of American nor Iraqi democracy, it poses a significant political threat to the future of al Qaeda in Iraq, perhaps even more significant than the formation of the Anbar Salvation Council.

Marc Lynch notes of the RJF that:

While the language is typically religious, the focus is exclusively Iraqi, and says nothing about wider global jihad.

As a result, the group should have more appeal to the various Sunni insurgent factions that are more nationalistic in their goals, and thus lessen support for al Qaeda in Iraq.

"Divide and conquer" was the original aim al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgency, as they hoped to capture popular Iraqi support and use that support against the Iraqi government and the Coalition. It will be very interesting to see how the media decides to note the now obvious fact that it is al Qaeda and it's aligned Sunni groups that are fracturing, factionalizing, and turning on one another.

Update: A "Twofer?" Over at Hot Air, Bryan is running with a Washington Post article where General William Caldwell has confirmed that Muharib Abdul-Latif al-Jubouri, al-Qaida’s information minister, has been killed, a fact confirmed by DNA tests on the body:

Caldwell said the U.S. does not have the bodies of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq, or Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, and doesn't know of "anybody that does."

He said the military had conducted numerous operations against al-Qaida in Iraq in the last six days.

Al-Jubouri was killed while trying to resist detention in an operation about four miles west of the Taji air base north of Baghdad early Tuesday, and the body was initially identified by photos, then confirmed by DNA testing Wednesday, he said.

Meanwhile, Bryan notes that Iraqi media sites such as Aswat al Iraq are still claiming al-Baghdadi's death, and even purport to have video of the body.

Who is right?

IraqSlogger isn't sure, but states that CNN is claiming that al-Baghdadi and Al-Jubouri may very well be the same person. I couldn't find that claim at CNN, so the statement only adds to the confusion.

The overall facts remain the same, regardless of which al Qaeda leader specifically died: al Qaeda in Iraq is being hunted, cornered, and killed or captured, and the pace of such operations seems to be increasing.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 3, 2007 08:37 AM

Not sure quite ow it fits in, but I'm sure this is all part of the Harry Reid strategic failure plan.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at May 4, 2007 06:46 AM