Iraqis wound al Qaeda in Iraq leader and kill his deputy

CNN:

The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq has been wounded and his top aide killed in a clash with police, an Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman told CNN Thursday.

The spokesman said Iraqi police encountered an insurgent group on the road between Falluja and Samarra and, in a firefight, wounded Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Abu Abdullah al-Majamiai, al-Masri's top aide, was killed, he said.

The spokesman said Iraqi police have the body of al-Majamiai and would not comment on the whereabouts of al-Masri.

The U.S. military had no comment on the report.

Al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, is an Egyptian who took over the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq in June after the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Iraqi Interior Minister Muwaffak al-Rubaie estimated in October 2006 that al-Masri had been involved in making more than 2,000 car bombs that killed more than 6,000 Iraqis in the past two years.

...

Don't tell the Democrats. They are still saying Iraq has nothing to do with al Qaeda.

This is good news for Iraqis who have been the primary target for al Qaeda. My speculation is that Al-Masri is in Iraqi custody or has been transferred to US forces. They are pro ably reluctant to let his followers know they have him and where he might be. I suspect that they will be having a chat with him most ricki tick.

The Belmont Club thinks this is a sign of momentum that has come with the surge of troops into Baghdad. Bill Roggio reminds us that last week Task Force 145 captured a senior aide to al-Masri in Mahmoudiya. Roggio says al-Masri is more capable and dangerous than Zarqawi.

We do know that he ordered a retreat from Baghdad after the surge was announced. He may have been a little late leaving. It should be noted that he was caught while on the move. This si when insurgents are the most vulnerable and the surge of forces gives us the opportunity to set up more check points to capture people like him.

Gateway Pundit
is now linking reports that al-Masri was taken into custody. Michelle Malkin has more links. If true that is huge. It is the one of the highest ranking al Qaeda captured since we got the guy behind 9-11--Khalid Sheik Mohammad.

Update: This report quotes Al Iraqiya as saying al-Masri escaped.

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