- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

BAGHDAD — Iraqi and U.S. forces claimed a major blow against one of the country’s deadliest insurgent groups yesterday, saying they killed the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, the mastermind behind a brutal escalation in suicide bombings in the capital since April.

U.S. and Iraqi forces tracked Abdullah Abu Azzam, said to be the right-hand man of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the most-wanted man in Iraq, to a Baghdad apartment building, where he was shot Sunday, U.S. spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Boylan said.

“We got specific information and intelligence that led us to him,” Col. Boylan said. “We’ve been tracking him for a while.”

It was not clear what effect Abu Azzam’s death would have on al Qaeda in Iraq, the umbrella terrorist organization. The U.S. military has claimed to have killed or captured leading Zarqawi aides in the past, and attacks continued unabated — though Abu Azzam appeared to be a more significant figure.

“They’re going to have to go to the bench and find somebody who is probably less knowledgeable and less qualified,” Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon. “It will have some impact, but over time they will replace people.”

Elsewhere, a suicide attacker blew himself up in a police recruitment center in the town of Baqouba, north of the capital, killing nine persons. In Baghdad, gunmen killed four police officers. At least 66 persons, including four U.S. troops, have been killed in attacks since Sunday.

In southern Iraq, police found the badly decomposed bodies of 22 Iraqi men who had been fatally shot and dumped in a field, many of them bound and blindfolded, said police Lt. Othman al-Lami of the Wasit provincial police. The district — northeast of Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad — is mostly Shi’ite Muslim.

The terrorist group al Qaeda in Iraq issued an Internet statement denying Abu Azzam was the group’s deputy leader, calling him just “one of al Qaeda’s many soldiers” and “the leader of one its battalions operating in Baghdad.” It confirmed the raid, but said it was not certain yet whether he was killed.

U.S. and Iraqi officials said Abu Azzam led al Qaeda’s operations in Baghdad, personally planning a stepped-up wave of suicide bombings this year.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide