Leaflet Says Extremist Al-Zarqawi Killed
Leaflets by "mujahedeen" groups allegedly involved in fighting the U.S. occupation are distributed frequently in Fallujah and other cities of the "Sunni Triangle," the region north and west of Baghdad where guerrilla activity is highest. U.S. officials have said Muhammad's Army may be an umbrella groups of former Iraqi intelligence and security agents and that Ansar al-Sunna Army may be an offshoot of Ansar al-Islam.
A little over a year ago, Jordanian authorities named al-Zarqawi as the mastermind behind the 2002 murder of Laurence Foley, a 60-year-old administrator of U.S. aid programs in Jordan.
Al-Zarqawi was born Ahmad Fadeel Nazzal al-Khalayleh in the Jordanian city of Zarqa, an industrial city 17 miles northeast of Amman from which he took his nom de guerre.
The owner of a car repair shop in Zarqa said he was told by al-Zarqawi's nephew that al-Zarqawi had been in contact with his mother, Umm Sayel. In their last communication four months ago, al-Zarqawi called his mother at a Jordanian hospital where she was undergoing surgery, the garage owner told AP on condition of anonymity.
The phone was tapped and police soon arrive to question Umm Sayel, and since then al-Zarqawi has not restored contact, the man said he was told by the nephew.
He would not give the nephew's name or disclose his whereabouts. The AP repeatedly has tried to speak with al-Zarqawi's family.
Al-Zarqawi, believed to be in his 30s, left Jordan for Afghanistan in the late 1980s. He later returned and in 1992 was jailed 7 1/2 years for militant activities in the kingdom. He left Jordan in August 1999 for Pakistan.
In a German court last year, Shadi Abdellah, a Palestinian on trial for allegedly plotting to attack Berlin's Jewish Museum and a Jewish-owned disco, testified he was working for al-Zarqawi. He said they met in Afghanistan.
German authorities have reportedly said they believe al-Zarqawi was appointed by al-Qaida's leadership to arrange attacks in Europe.
Moroccan government sources said a group blamed for bombings in May that killed 45 people in Casablanca got its orders from al-Zarqawi. In Turkey, officials said he was believed to have played a role in bombings that killed 63 at two synagogues, the British consulate and a British bank in Istanbul in November.
AP writer Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Associated Press