Al Qaeda in Iraq leader possibly arrested

May 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Overseas the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq is believed to be under arrest on Thursday. Abu Ayyub al-Masri's capture, if confirmed, is expected to cause a crushing blow to the terrorist organization there.

Al Qaeda in Iraq's leader, Abu Ayya al-Masri is also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. He is who Iraqi police are sure they arrested in a home in Mosul.

"He is the number one man in al Qaeda in Iraq, it shows the organization has been weakened," said Thomas Henriksen, from the Hoover Institution.

Hoover institution senior fellow, Henriksen says, if the captured man is in fact al-Masri, this is a significant development. It would be as if terrorists had kidnapped U.S. General David Petreaus.

Even though American forces have yet to confirm the prisoner's identity, Henriksen says the arrest equates to a shift in U.S. control.

"The capture demonstrates over killing him, a more superior intelligence, a more political self confidence," said Henriksen.

Al-Masri stepped in after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed during an air strike in 2006.

While President Bush called al-Zarqawi's death a victory, counter terrorism specialist Nirmalya Bhoumick thinks having al-Masri in custody, is even more important.

"It deals a severe blow to the ego and morale to the al Quaida effort," said Nirmalya Bhoumick, a counter terrorism specialist. "So capturing their leader alive means they've been severely compromised."

This arrest isn't expected to bring down the entire al Qaeda network, but it will likely cause al-Masri's group to go into hiding.


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