Al-Qaeda's Iraq number two killed: US military
9 hours ago
BAGHDAD (AFP) — The US military said on Wednesday that a foreign insurgent killed in the main northern Iraqi city of Mosul this month has been identified as Abu Qaswarah, Al-Qaeda's number two in Iraq.
"Abu Qaswarah, also known as Abu Sara, was the Al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leader of northern Iraq," it said in a statement.
It said Abu Qaswarah, a native of Morocco who was killed in a raid on a building in Mosul on October 5, had ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq's (AQI's) founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air strike in Iraq in June 2006.
"He was responsible for organising and leading AQI in Iraq efforts in northern Iraq, including operations against Iraqi and coalition targets in Mosul."
The US military also said Abu Qaswarah had trained with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and been in contact with senior leaders of the group's wing in Pakistan.
He directed the movement of foreign terrorists into northern Iraq, a position which he took up in 2007, it said.
There was no independent confirmation of the report.
But Sweden's security police force Saepo later said that a Swedish man of Moroccan descent suspected of being part of the Al-Qaeda leadership in Iraq was killed in battle with US forces in Iraq earlier this month
"A 43-year-old Swedish citizen of Moroccan origin was killed in a firefight with American forces in northern Iraq at the beginning of October," a statement said. Saepo said that it had received the information from US authorities.
"The man has been suspected for some time of belonging to the Al-Qaeda leadership in Iraq. Saepo knows of him from his earlier activities in Islamist circles in Sweden prone to violence," it said.
According to Saepo, the Swede "has previously been suspected of taking part in terror attacks and has a history of fighting, among other places in Afghanistan in the 1990s."
The Swedish foreign ministry confirmed that a Swede had been killed by US troops in Iraq, but did not identify him.
US military spokeswoman in Iraq Brooke Murphy could not confirm if the Swedish citizen and Abu Qaswarah were the same, but said that Abu Qaswaras was linked to the Brandbergen Mosque in Stockholm.
The mosque had been connected in the past to extremist Islamic networks.
"Intelligence reports suggest that one of those connections is with the Brandburgen mosque network," said Murphy.
The US military considers Mosul as Al-Qaeda's last urban stronghold in Iraq and said that the capture of Abu Qaswarah would undermine the insurgent group's capabilities.
"Abu Qaswarah's death will cause a major disruption to the Al-Qaeda network, as he played a significant role in tying numerous al-Qaeda links together in order to conduct terrorist activities in Iraq," a statement said.
The US raid on a Mosul building which apparently served as a command and control centre for Al-Qaeda also led to the death of four other insurgents as well as three women and three children, the military said in an earlier report.
Over the past few days religiously mixed but troubled Mosul has grabbed headlines after a series of murders of Christians that prompted thousands in the minority group to abandon their homes.
Although nobody has claimed responsibility for the ethnic violence, US military spokesman Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll on Wednesday blamed Al-Qaeda, calling it "typical" of the network.
Also this month, US forces killed a suspected Al-Qaeda militant believed to have planned some of the deadliest bombings in Baghdad and to have killed a group of Russian diplomats in 2006.
Mahir Ahmad Mahmud al-Zubaydi, also known as Abu Assad or Abu Rami, was responsible for suicide bombings in Baghdad on October 9, the US military said.