Iraqi army officer who joined al Qaeda 15 years ago captured

AP:

The Pentagon announced Friday the capture of one of al-Qaida's most senior and most experienced operatives, an Iraqi who was trying to return to his native country when he was captured.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the captive is Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi. He was received by the Pentagon this week from the CIA, Whitman said, but the spokesman would not say where or when al-Iraqi was captured or by whom.

The Pentagon described Al-Iraqi as an associate of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and as someone who may have been targeting Westerners outside of Iraq.

The Pentagon took custody of al-Iraqi at Guantanamo Bay, the detention center for terror suspects, Whitman said. He is the 15th so-called high-value detainee to be taken to Guantanamo Bay after being held by the CIA in secret prisons abroad. The other 14 were sent to Guantanamo Bay last September and have since undergone military hearings there to affirm their status as enemy combatants eligible for military trials.

Whitman said al-Iraqi was believed responsible for plotting cross- border attacks from Pakistan on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and that he led an effort to assassinate Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, as well as unspecified officials of the United Nations.

"Abd al-Hadi (al-Iraqi) was trying to return to his native country, Iraq, to manage al-Qaida's affairs and possibly focus on operations outside Iraq against Western targets," Whitman said, adding that the terror suspect met with al-Qaida members in Iran. He said he did not know when al-Iraqi was in Iran.

The Pentagon said al-Iraqi was born in Mosul, in northern Iraq, in Whitman said he was a key al-Qaida paramilitary leader in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, and during 2002-04 led efforts to attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan with terrorist forces based in Pakistan.

...

According to biographical information provided by the Pentagon on Friday, al-Iraqi served in the Iraqi military. It said he spent more than 15 years in Afghanistan and at one point was an instructor in an al-Qaida training camp there. Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was a member of al-Qaida's ruling Shura Council, a now- defunct 10-person advisory body to bin Laden, the Pentagon said.

He also was a member of al-Qaida's military committee, which oversaw terrorist and guerrilla operations and paramilitary training, according to the Pentagon.
Well, everybody knows that Iraq has nothing to do with al Qaeda, right? Maybe he will be asked whether he was Saddam's man on the Shura Council. He appears to be another high level capture. Since his capture is not discussed, my speculation is that he was caught by Pakistan and turned over to the US.

There is more on Gitmo's latest detainee at Bill Roggio's blog. Thomas Joscelyn has some suggested questions for the former Iraqi major's interrogation. Some suggest ties with Saddam's regime.

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