The US military is investigating reports that the chief terrorist in Iraq, the al-Qaeda connected Abu al-Zarqawi, may already be in custody, according to Reuters:
The U.S. military said on Monday it was checking unconfirmed reports that al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been captured in Iraq. The Jordanian-born Zarqawi, who Washington says is its number one enemy in Iraq, is accused of masterminding a string of suicide bombings and of the execution of an American and a South Korean hostage.
The reports suggested that Zarqawi had been captured near the town of Hilla, south of Baghdad and in the Polish military area of responsibility.
“We are working on that issue,” a U.S. military official said.
A Polish spokesman added: “I cannot confirm that information… When the operation is ongoing at the moment I cannot make any comment.”
Wouldn’t that be a red-letter day? Capturing Zarqawi and a successful transfer of sovereignty at the same time. If true, Zarqawi’s capture will make it easier for the Iraqi government to get a grip on security; even those terrorists not directly affiliated with Zarqawi may rethink the insurrection, such as it is. It would also knock out a key link between Osama bin Laden and the Iraqi terrorist groups operating in the country now.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed. (via Memeorandum)
UPDATE: Reuters giveth, and Reuters denieth:
The U.S. military denied reports Monday that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who Washington says is allied to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, had been captured in Iraq.
“It’s not true, the reports are not true,” Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the U.S. military in Iraq, told Reuters. “We’ve heard the reports about it, but they are not true.”
Too bad. Maybe next time.