British Forces Kill Leading Terrorist
Tuesday, September 26, 2006; 1:17 AM
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- British forces shot and killed a leading al-Qaida terrorist Monday more than a year after he embarrassed the U.S. military by making an unprecedented escape from a maximum security military prison in Afghanistan, officials said.
Omar al-Farouq was gunned down after he opened fire on British forces during a raid on his home in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, British forces spokesman Maj. Charlie Burbridge said.
Burbridge said he could not comment on whether it was the same man who allegedly led al-Qaida's Southeast Asia operations, citing British policy not allowing him to link an individual to a specific organization.
But a Basra police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said it was the same man. The officer said al-Farouq entered Iraq three months ago, was known to be an expert in bomb making and went by the name Mahmoud Ahmed while in Basra.
Al-Farouq and three other al-Qaida suspects escaped from Bagram, in central Afghanistan, in July 2005, but the Pentagon waited until November to confirm his escape. The delay upset Indonesia, which had arrested al-Farouq in 2002 and turned him over to the United States.
In Indonesia last November, al-Farouq's wife said the U.S. government should have put her husband on trial.
"My husband was kidnapped by America but they never officially told us ... for more than three years," Mira Agustina said then. "I don't believe that my husband was a terrorist. He is only an ordinary man who cried when he watched movies about violence."
"I was shocked when news broke that my husband was a terrorist wanting to kill many people," she said, adding that she told her two daughters that their father had gone off to America "to work."
But a top security consultant in Indonesia, Ken Conboy, told The Associated Press last year that al-Farouq joined al-Qaida in the early 1990s and trained in Afghanistan for three years before unsuccessfully trying to enroll at a flight school in the Philippines so he could commandeer an airplane on a suicide mission.
He later plotted to stage car and truck bombings at U.S. embassies across Southeast Asia on or near the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but the plan was thwarted and he was captured, Conboy said.
It was not known why al-Farouq fled to Iraq, but officials have said he was born in Kuwait to Iraqi parents. In the interview last year, Conboy played down concerns that al-Farouq would go to Southeast Asia.
"He's Iraqi after all. If he's not hiding out (in Afghanistan or Pakistan), he's probably headed to Iraq to join the fight there," Conboy said then.