The U.S. military said Thursday that it had arrested a member of the group known as al Qaeda in Iraq who was involved in the recent kidnapping and execution of an Egyptian diplomat.
Khamis Farhan Khalaf Abdul Fahdawi, known as Abu Seba, was captured Saturday in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad, the military said in a statement. Described in the statement as a member of al Qaeda in Iraq's leadership cell, Abdul Fahdawi was allegedly involved in the abduction of Ihab Sherif, Egypt's top diplomat in Iraq, in Baghdad on July 2 and Sherif's subsequent killing. He also played a role in attacks on diplomats from Bahrain and Pakistan on July 5, the statement said.
Al Qaeda in Iraq asserted responsibility for the kidnapping and killing of Sherif, posting a video on the Internet that showed the blindfolded diplomat and saying he had been sentenced to death for what the group called Egypt's apostasy from Islam.
The military said Abdul Fahdawi was one of more than 30 suspected insurgents arrested in a handful of recent raids, including another alleged al Qaeda lieutenant, Abdulla Ibrahim Muhammed Hassan Shadad, known as Abu Abdul Aziz, who was apprehended in Baghdad on Sunday. The statement said both Abdul Fahdawi and Shadad were closely linked to the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi.
The military's characterizations of the two men could not immediately be verified independently. Al Qaeda in Iraq acknowledged in an Internet statement that Abdul Fahdawi had been captured but said he was "nothing but a leader of one of the brigades in Baghdad."
Al Qaeda in Iraq also issued a statement Thursday denying involvement in a suicide bombing that killed 27 people, including more than a dozen children and one U.S. soldier, in Baghdad on Wednesday.
In the Shiite Muslim neighborhood in east Baghdad where Wednesday's attack occurred, streets were lined with mourning tents and banners on Thursday as families attended funerals for the children, who were gathered around U.S. soldiers handing out candy and toys when the bomber struck.
Kareem Rubae was receiving neighbors who had come to mourn his two nephews because the boys' father -- his brother -- was so grief-stricken that he had to be hospitalized. "We've all lived in this neighborhood for more than 30 years. We know each other and so do our kids," Rubae said, adding that his brother was not the only one robbed of two sons: "My neighbor, Qayis Dayni, waited for 10 years to have kids, till he had two, Ali and Abbas, and yesterday he lost them both."
Across the Tigris River on Thursday, at a police station adjacent to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, a multiple suicide bombing killed two police officers and two bombers, according to the Associated Press. Witnesses and police said a third bomber was captured.
"The first explosion was a suicide car bomb, and one minute later, a man wearing an explosive belt blew himself up, causing casualties among the police and army who were gathering near the checkpoint," said Sgt. Karrar Omran of the Iraqi army. A second man wearing an explosive belt apparently was wounded by shrapnel from the first belt bomb and unable to detonate his own device, police and witnesses said.
Police at the scene said that the man lay on the ground calling for help and that it was only as they moved closer that they realized he was wearing an explosive belt. "He was wounded by shrapnel near his heart, and he could hardly speak," said police Lt. Mohammed Aref. "When we saw the explosive belt, we all ran away until the explosive experts arrived and removed the bomb from his body."
A statement released by the U.S. military said the Iraqi police shot the wounded bomber and loaded him in the back of a pickup truck before the bomb disposal team arrived. "The wounded bomber, paralyzed by bomb shrapnel and the IP [Iraqi police] gunfire, was taken to the 86th Combat Support Hospital where he remains in critical condition," the statement said.
Col. Ed Cardon, commander of the Army's 4th Brigade Combat Team, said the Iraqi police and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team "performed their jobs well. These suicide bombers failed in their mission while the police succeeded in theirs. I am in awe of the bravery of the Iraqi EOD specialist that disarmed the vest on the wounded suicide bomber at great risk to his own life."
Special correspondent Bassam Sebti contributed to this report.