July 18, 2007

US Captures Top AQI Figure

Update: US confirms. See Update 1.

The US captured a senior figure for al-Qaeda in Iraq on July 4th, the BBC reports this morning. Khaled Mashhadani told investigators that he acted as a conduit between the real AQI leader and senior al-Qaeda leadership outside of Iraq:

US forces say they have arrested a senior member of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group accused of being behind some of Iraq's deadliest violence.

The man was named as Khaled Mashhadani. He was captured earlier in July in the northern city of Mosul, officials said.

US military officials said he had told interrogators that the group's supposed leader, Omar al-Baghdadi, was a front.

Mashhadani may give the US enough information to target the real leader of AQI, if it isn't Omar al-Baghdadi. Interestingly, some think that Khaled Mashhadini is Omar al-Baghdadi. Nibras Kazimi gave a run-down on al-Baghdadi four months ago:

This is what the Iraqi government told us: ‘Abu Omar al-Baghdadi’ is the pseudonym for Khalid al-Mashhadani, who also goes by the name ‘Abu Zaid’.

This is what we know from following the bitter recriminations among jihadists on internet discussion forums: ‘Abu Omar al-Baghdadi’ was arrested under the Ba’athist regime as a Salafist (radical Islamist) activist who had broken into a school and defaced Saddam Hussein’s pictures and the Ba’athist slogans at the school.

This is what Al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq claims about his pedigree: ‘Abu Omar al-Baghdadi’ is descended from the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Al-Hussein bin Ali, which would make him a Husseinite from the Hashemite clan that is part of the tribe of Quraysh.

This is the best I could do to tie all this up together, according to my sources: al-Baghdadi’s full name is Khalid Khalil Ibrahim al-Mashhadani. He is in his early 40s, and is known as ‘Abu Zaid’. He had been a Salafist under Saddam, and was briefly detained then over some unknown infraction.

This looks like it could be Zarqawi's successor. I'll update as more details become available.

UPDATE I: The US is now saying that Mashhadani is the "most senior Iraqi" in AQI. Mashhadani used a ruse to keep his identity from being known as the leader of AQI:

In Web postings, the Islamic State of Iraq has identified its leader as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, with al-Masri as minister of war. There are no known photos of al-Baghdadi.

Bergner said al-Mashhadani had told interrogators that al-Baghdadi is a "fictional role" created by al-Masri and that an actor is used for audio recordings of speeches posted on the Web.

"In his words, the Islamic State of Iraq is a front organization that masks the foreign influence and leadership within al-Qaida in Iraq in an attempt to put an Iraqi face on the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq," Bergner said.

Mashhadani started off as a militant in Ansar al-Sunna, then merged with al-Qaeda in 2004. Zarqawi made him the media minister of AQI, which apparently doesn't include actually making speeches for himself.

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! The BBC updates its earlier breaking-news bulletin:

"Baghdadi, who has never been seen, is an actor. To make Baghdadi seem real, Masri swore allegiance to him, knowing he was fictitious," he said.

"Mashhadani confirmed that Masri and al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders he surrounds himself with are foreigners," he said. ...

"He is considered a conduit between Masri, Bin Laden and Zawahiri," Gen Bergner said, referring to the Saudi- and Egyptian-born founders of al-Qaeda, who are thought to be hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

UPDATE III: Today on CQ Radio, I'll interview the Heritage Foundation's Mackenzie Eaglen on this subject, as well as the NIE and the progress in Iraq. We'll be on at 3 pm ET/2 pm CT, so don't miss it!


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference US Captures Top AQI Figure:

» Harry Reid: “U.S. Troops, Terrorists, Refuse To Acknowledge Surge Is Not Working” from The Nose On Your Face
The recent capture of the top Al Qaeda man in Iraq, Khaled Masshadani, has confirmed what many on the Democratic side of the aisle have been saying for some time: General Petraeus’ vaunted “surge” is not working. “I don’t ... [Read More]

» Military Captures Top al-Qaida in Iraq Figure Captured from Stop The ACLU
Via Gateway Pundit: As democrats wind down their surrender all-nighter…US Forces in Iraq announced the capture of the highest ranking Iraqi in the Al Qaeda organization inside Iraq. The U.S. command said Wednesday the highest-ranking Iraqi in the... [Read More]

» Iraqi AQ Arrest Announced from America's North Shore Journal
Update: More at Captain’s Quarters, including discussion on whether or not this is the actual leader of AQ in Iraq. WSJ The U.S. military on Wednesday announced the arrest of a man it identified as the highest-ranking Iraqi in the leadership of a... [Read More]

» Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, singing like a bird from Right Truth
This is a huge capture, since he is singing like a bird. Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani "shed light on the workings of al Qaeda in Iraq and its connection with al Qaeda outside of Iraq..." He said al-Mashadani is [Read More]

» Harry Reid Fails Again from fly at night
The all-night Senate debate turned out to be a bust for Majority Leader Harry Reid. Somewhere along the line he figured out that he would miss his nap. The Senate is voting on the Levin/Reed Amendment at this moment. It is eerie to see the Senators ... [Read More]

Comments (22)

Posted by crossdotcurve | July 18, 2007 7:28 AM

Too bad we've already lost the war:


I encourage anyone who thinks the "surge" is leading "victory" to read this article.

Absolutely devastating.

Posted by Dale Michaud aka TexasDude | July 18, 2007 7:37 AM

The Democrats, along with some wimpy Republicans, are working for the enemy, whether they realize or not and whether their intent is for that goal or not.

Democrat and national security are nowhere to be found together!

Posted by NoDonkey | July 18, 2007 7:56 AM

"Absolutely devastating."

Correct - devastatingly stupid, fraud ridden and irrelevant.

It's nice to see the juvenile delinquents over at Salon have moved onto foreign policy analysis, now that they've pretty much exhausted their hard hitting takedown of Reality TV.

The real question is: When will People Magazine weigh in?

Posted by OGLib | July 18, 2007 8:32 AM

NoDonkey - What about Galbraith's article is stupid, fraud ridden and irrelevant? Please, do tell. I'm sure you can come up with something better than just a blanket claim that doesn't address any of Galbraith's arguments.

And by the way, Galbraith has more knowledge about Iraq in his pinky finger than you or I could ever dream of having ourselves. He speaks from experience and knowledge (I think his friends in Kurdistan would attest to this). Disagree with his assessment using facts, don't just call it a "fraud" because he's not screaming, "We're winning! But if we leave......Al Qaeda! Al Qaeda! Al Qaeda!"

This is the guy you refer to as a "juvenile delinquent". If you had his resume, maybe I'd take you more seriously:


Posted by ERNurse | July 18, 2007 8:35 AM

Too bad that we can't interrogate him, can't isolate him, can't violate his faith, and can't so much as pour his tea without approval from the uber-beyotch General Pelosi.

Posted by Peter | July 18, 2007 8:50 AM

We've had him for two weeks before anyone knew, maybe we got a little something out of him before the Donks gave him a bunch of rights.

Posted by Peter | July 18, 2007 8:53 AM

We've had him for two weeks before anyone knew, maybe we got a little something out of him before the Donks gave him a bunch of rights.

Posted by NoDonkey | July 18, 2007 9:23 AM

"maybe we got a little something out of him before the Donks gave him a bunch of rights."

He's scheduled for Oprhah next week.

Posted by Tully | July 18, 2007 9:26 AM

You...you mean...sock puppetry?!?!

Wow. AQ imitates Greenwald.

Posted by fishbrake | July 18, 2007 9:57 AM

If he was captured on July 4th, why is this news only coming out today?

Posted by MarkJ | July 18, 2007 10:20 AM

Dear crossdotcurve,

Absolutely devastating.

Yeah, I guess this Salon piece is "absolutely devastating"....on Planet Moonbat, which you and most of the Democratic Party are orbiting around these days.

Posted by dave | July 18, 2007 10:29 AM

al-Baghdadi said in a videotape (released 5 days after his capture - weird) that he was going to start a war with Iran in 2 months. A war he had been planning for 4 years. I guess the US did Iran a favor by capturing him.

Posted by dave | July 18, 2007 10:43 AM

"released 5 days after his capture - weird"

So did al-Baghdadi make this video while in US custody? Seems doubtful. The tape must have been made earlier, I suppose. After 5 days, al-Qaeda in Iraq must have known that their leader was captured. If so, why did they released this videotape showing al-Baghdadi threatening war with Iran? Seems like a silly thing to do when they knew he was captured.

Posted by crossdotcurve | July 18, 2007 10:55 AM

Very telling that the non-reality-based community still can't respond substantively to an article written by one of the most respected Iraq experts we have - someone involved in America's Iraq policy for decades.

Probably didn't even read it.


Posted by OGLib | July 18, 2007 11:17 AM

What crossdotcurve said. Galbraith is no moonbat (check his resume). You can't just toss aside his analysis simply because he doesn't say "we're winning". Read the piece then back up your criticism with facts.

Posted by OGLib | July 18, 2007 11:19 AM

What crossdotcurve said. Galbraith is no moonbat (check his resume). You can't just toss aside his analysis simply because he doesn't say "we're winning". Read the piece then back up your criticism with facts.

Posted by MarkW | July 18, 2007 12:02 PM

these days, all it takes to become an expert on Iraq, is to declare that the US is evil and that the war was lost before it began.

Having an opinion based on actual data and experiences disqualifies one from being an expert.

Posted by Scott Malensek | July 18, 2007 12:56 PM


"Al Queda in Iraq has nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden."


Well, they just captured the go-between-man who linked the two.

Please, take your hands off your ears, open your eyes, and stop humming.

Anyone doubt that Sen Reid doesn't know about this?

Posted by jr565 | July 18, 2007 1:28 PM

without clicking on the link as of yet (though I will in fact read it) i notice the word "opinion" in the address. Meaning that its an oped.
I'm not surprised that an opinion from someone who's anti the Iraq war might be negative towards the war, nor am I surprised that someone who agreed with that opinion would find it devastating.
Whereas, those who disagree with said opinion might find it less devastating.

Posted by OGlib | July 18, 2007 2:39 PM

Galbraith's final analysis may be, in the end, his opinion, but it's based on years of studying and working in the region and in Iraq in particular (both pre-and post-invasion). As for Galbraith being anti-war, he may be against continuing the occupation but here's what he wrote in an op-ed published in October 2004:

"I supported President Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. At Wolfowitz's request, I helped advance the case for war, drawing on my work in previous years in documenting Saddam's atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons on the Kurds. In spite of the chaos that followed the war, I am sure that Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein."

Posted by bernie | July 18, 2007 5:54 PM

I linked to your article but trackbacks didn't take: Get out of Iraq before we win

Posted by IndyUtah | July 18, 2007 8:03 PM

Seems strange that in the cloak and dagger world a high value target is captured, then quotes from his interrogation are publicly released, thereby negating the opportunity to further infiltrate his network. Sounds more like political propoganda than effective intelligence work.