Iraq honey trap works again, Brits get al Qaeda escapee
British troops shot dead one of al-Qaeda’s most elusive fugitives yesterday after his extraordinary flight from a US prison in Afghanistan to a luxury villa in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.There is more. His transit from Afghanistan could be very revealing and apparent US intelligence was following. If it was through Iran as some suspect that would be a provocation that would be hard to ignore. He is definitely a good git. The Brits deserve a hat tip for this one.
Omar al-Farouk, 35, was handpicked by Osama bin Laden to run al-Qaeda’s terror network in South-East Asia and was captured in June 2002, only weeks before he allegedly planned to bomb eight US embassies across the region.
Kuwaiti born, he was groomed at an Afghan camp, and sent to Indonesia where he was arrested, hiding in a mosque. The CIA claimed that his capture had dealt a devastating blow to al-Qaeda. From there he was flown to one of America’s most secure detention centres at Bagram airbase on the outskirts of Kabul.
But Farouk and three fellow al-Qaeda suspects managed to pick the locks and escape across a minefield in July last year.
He later appeared on an Arab television channel taunting his US captors and vowing to carry out terror attacks in America.
Intelligence chiefs were tonight trying to trace Farouk’s international odyssey and discover how he crossed the border into Iraq and set up a hideout in the port city of Basra.
A British army spokesman, Major Charlie Burbridge, told The Times how the military had spent "several days" planning their raid after a tip off from US intelligence last week that Farouk was sheltering in Iraq.
There has long been concern that al-Qaeda has established an escape route through Iran and members of bin Laden’s family are known to have been helped to flee from neighbouring Afghanistan.
But the appearance of such a senior Al-Qaeda member in southern Iraq gives credence to reports circulating among Kurdish leaders in Iraq that key figures from bin Laden’s network are now crossing into the country through the poorly policed border with Iran.
An Arab diplomat and a Saudi security official told CBS News at the weekend that al-Qaeda is scaling down its leadership structure in Afghanistan and preparing to move its headquarters to the Middle East.
The NY Times also covers the hit.