Zarqawi's No. 2 Killed in Baghdad Operation
The second-in-command of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Azzam, was shot and killed by U.S.-led forces in Baghdad on Sunday, the U.S. military confirmed on Tuesday.
Azzam, a financier and religious aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was shot and killed while hiding out in a high-rise apartment building in the capital.
"We had a tip from an Iraqi citizen that led us to him," said Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Boylan, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq. "It was a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation. We've been tracking him for a while."
The New York Times reported that Central Intelligence Agency operatives were involved in the operation that led to Azzam's killing, but Boylan could not confirm that.
It is also not known what nationality Azzam was, or whether he was alone when he was shot and killed.
Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, is one of the most feared militant groups in the country and claims responsibility for many of the deadliest attacks.
Zarqawi, for whom U.S. authorities are offering a $25 million bounty, is believed to be hiding out in the Euphrates river valley that runs northwest from Baghdad towards the border with Syria.
U.S. forces have mounted repeated offensives in that region to try to track Zarqawi down. In recent months, several of his close associates, including drivers and junior commanders, have been captured or killed, the U.S. military has said.
REUTERS Reut07:16 09-27-05