By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, October 4, 2008
BAGHDAD, Oct. 3 -- U.S. soldiers killed a man in Baghdad on Friday whom the military described as a senior leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
A woman was also killed during an exchange of gunfire between the American troops and people in the building where the military said it found the man, Mahir Ahmad Mahmud Judu al-Zubaydi.
Zubaydi, also known as Abu Assad and Abu Rami, was an "emir," or top leader, of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq in the eastern Baghdad district of Rusafa and was responsible for a string of bombings in the capital, according to a statement the military issued late Friday.
The statement said Zubaydi had "masterminded" numerous attacks, including a car bombing and a suicide bombing Thursday that targeted people outside Shiite mosques.
The latest attacks stoked fears in the capital of a resurgence of sectarian violence, which has dropped noticeably in recent months.
Acting on intelligence Friday, U.S. soldiers surrounded a building in Adhamiyah, a neighborhood in northern Baghdad, looking for Zubaydi.
After the soldiers called for the occupants to surrender, the military said, shots were fired toward them from inside the building. U.S. soldiers fired back, killing Zubaydi and a woman, who was not identified.
According to the military, Zubaydi left another insurgent group, Ansar al-Islam, in 2004 to join al-Qaeda in Iraq. He carried out several car bombings and mortar attacks in Sadr City in 2006 and 2007, including a bombing in the fall of 2006 that killed more than 200 people, the statement said.
He is also suspected of directing a May 1 bombing in Baghdad that killed an American soldier and wounded three others.
"Abu Rami did nothing for the people of Iraq except fill their cemeteries with innocent victims," said a U.S. military spokesman, Rear. Adm. Patrick Driscoll. "His removal from the AQI network will send shock waves through Baghdad's terrorist bombing networks."
Also Friday, Iraq's president and two vice presidents agreed to ratify the provincial election law passed by parliament late last month, according to news reports citing an aide of one of the vice presidents.
Lawmakers squabbled over the bill for months and ultimately approved it after tabling the most controversial issue: whether elected seats in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, should be distributed evenly among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and U.N. officials in Iraq have criticized the bill's failure to set aside a minimum number of seats for members of religious minorities, saying they worry that Christians and others could become further marginalized. The elections are expected to be held early next year.