U.S. Identifies Dead Insurgent As Group's Propaganda Chief
Friday, May 4, 2007
BAGHDAD, May 3 -- U.S. troops killed a senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leader who military officials said helped orchestrate the kidnappings of Westerners, including American journalist Jill Carroll and slain Virginia peace activist Tom Fox, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq said Thursday.
The death of Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri came during a pre-dawn raid Tuesday on four buildings west of the Iraqi city of Taji, north of Baghdad, said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell. He described Jubouri as "senior minister of information for al-Qaeda in Iraq," responsible for the insurgent group's propaganda arm. Jubouri was killed in a firefight, he said, and his body was later identified through photos and DNA testing.
"Picking up somebody with that kind of history, that is significant -- to be able to stop that kind of activity," Caldwell said. "Taking him off the street is a good thing."
The announcement came as the U.S. Embassy said a rocket attack Wednesday night killed four Asian civilian contract workers inside the Green Zone, which houses the embassy and senior Iraqi government officials. The dead were one Filipino, one Nepali and two Indians. All were employed by a U.S. government contractor for jobs such as serving food, U.S. officials said. It was the third consecutive day that rocket or mortar fire had struck the Green Zone.
"We're constantly looking at our security measures and adjusting to take into account the environment," said Dan Sreebny, a U.S. Embassy spokesman.
Caldwell said Jubouri was the last person known to have "personal custody" of Fox, of Clear Brook, Va., who worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams, a group based in Chicago and Toronto. Fox's body was found in Baghdad in March 2006, shot multiple times. He was 54 and a father of two.
Fox's former wife, Janet Echols Stansel of Springfield, Va., said the family had not been contacted yet by the government. "I don't know whether it is true or not," said Stansel, referring to Jubouri's involvement in Fox's kidnapping. "Whatever I think I feel is subordinate to what the children feel. . . . The children lost their father. They were very close."
Jubouri was also involved in moving Carroll, a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, from one hiding place to another and creating ransom and propaganda communiques about her before she was released in late March 2006, Caldwell said.
In addition, Caldwell said, Jubouri was linked to the kidnapping in early 2006 of two German engineers who were released after being held for three months.
Iraqi government officials said Tuesday that Sunni tribal groups had killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the same area near Taji. U.S. military officials promptly said they were unable to confirm this.
On Thursday, Iraqi government officials said the man who had been killed was actually Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni insurgent umbrella organization said to have been created by al-Qaeda in Iraq.
But Caldwell questioned whether Baghdadi "even exists," stressing that the U.S. military had nobody, "alive or dead," that is "going through any kind of testing or analysis at this point," referring to both Masri and Baghdadi.