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Yesterday I reported a breaking news item that the US had killed a Top 5 leadership figure from al-Qaeda in Iraq based on a televised briefing. Today the AP gives more background on Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani:
A key Al Qaeda in Iraq leader described as the group's "religious emir" was killed in a U.S. airstrike hours before two American soldiers went missing and in the same area, the military said Tuesday.
Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani, or Sheik Mansour, and two foreign fighters were killed as they tried to flee in a vehicle near the town of Youssifiyah, in the so-called Sunni "Triangle of Death."
U.S. coalition forces had been tracking al-Mashhadani for some time, American military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said in announcing his death. He said al-Mashhadani was an Iraqi, 35 to 37 years old, and that one of the men killed with him was an Al Qaeda cell leader identified as Abu Tariq. ...
Caldwell said the Iraqi militant played a key religious and recruiting role in the group. The spokesman said Mansour was linked to the senior leadership, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a June 7 U.S. airstrike, and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the man the U.S. military has identified as Zarqawi's replacement.
Mansour "reportedly served as a right-hand man of Zarqawi's, and also served as a liaison between Al Qaeda in Iraq and the various tribes in the Youssifiyah area, as well as playing a key role in their media operations," Caldwell said.
American forces had Mansour in 2004 but released him due to a lack of knowledge about his status in AQI. That decision cost the US; Mansour shot down at least one Coalition aircraft this spring and undoubtedly helped arrange other attacks. The pressure to release detainees whose provenance cannot be proven has allowed more than one terrorist to return to kill again, and Mansour turned quite deadly indeed. He also helped the various terrorist groups coordinate their operations, making himself a bit of a force multiplier for AQI.
In other words, our troops are much better off with him dead. Had we realized that in 2004, we could have saved ourselves two years of his efforts against US and a free Iraq.Sphere It View blog reactions
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