Two of the most wanted terrorist figures in Iraq have been killed in a joint Iraqi-U.S. operation, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Monday.To use a Bidenism, this is a BFD. It certainly appears a positive step for the Iraqi military as our forces prepare to draw down.
Abu Ayyub al-Masri, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq - an umbrella group that includes al Qaeda in Iraq - were killed in a security operation in al-Tharthar, north of Baghdad, al-Maliki said.
Let the speculation begin, though. Al-Baghdadi has at times been reported a ghost or captured, which turned out to be an embarrassment last year. In 2007 a captured prisoner reported that he was merely a creation to put an Iraqi face on the foreign component involved in the insurgency, who were connected directly to bin Laden's Afghanistan command. Our forces ran with that as they were trying to convince local Sunni tribal chieftains to work with us against AQ.
According to a skeptical Times summary of al-Baghdadi:
He has not appeared publicly, though, except by voice - in recordings of his florid lectures condemning the West, Israel, Iran and insufficiently zealous Sunnis. This has given him a mystique that has only made him more powerful in the eyes of jihadistsErgo, silencing this ghost sounds like a necessary BFD.
How any of this might relate to the Saddamists still apparently funding the mayhem is the next guess. With Iyad Allawi rising to power it's possible a deal was struck to give these guys up--this story suggests they tried to make deals regarding Yemen. Perhaps it's the only way we can ever begin our drawdown, although clearly it will never be completely safe to withdraw.
I was shocked to see the Fox News story about the arrest warrant issued for Raghad Hussein by Iraq (the King of Jordan continues to display a giant middle finger towards the east) regards a captured letter supposedly to Izzat al-Douri (the unknown terrorist) telling him to ramp up the kickass before the recent elections.
Of course such a tale is mighty convenient for Maliki, who stands to benefit from the notion that al-Douri influenced the elections and allowed Allawi to gain some of his stake. But as with anything else there could be some truth behind it as well, especially the notion of Ba'athists using Sunni terrorists as cat's paws. The sudden death of the two most notorious AQ terrorists in Iraq cannot be a coincidence, but figuring out how it was engineered is certainly above my pay grade.