April 19, 2010

Editor’s note: Abu Ayyub al-Masri, said to be a flunky of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed during a US raid in Haditha. Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi was captured by the Iraqi military in April, 2009. In March 2008, a spokesman for an insurgent organization in Iraq claimed that al-Baghdadi is a fabrication made by al-Qaeda (that is to say the CIA) to put a false Iraqi face to their organization.

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Al Qaeda’s top two leaders in Iraq have been killed, officials said on Monday, in a strike the U.S. military predicted would deal militants a “potentially devastating blow” but whose impact analysts said may be limited.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said al Qaeda’s Iraq leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported head of its local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, were found dead in a hole in the ground inside a house after it was surrounded and stormed by troops.

The deaths could be a major setback to the stubborn insurgency at a time when Iraq is emerging from the sectarian slaughter unleashed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion but still struggling to end suicide bombings and other attacks.

“The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency,” said the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno. The military described it as “a potentially devastating blow”.

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