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Top al Qaeda man in Iraq arrested

July 18, 2007 19:48 IST

The highest-ranked Iraqi in the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq has been arrested, the United States has said.

A military spokesman said that the leader, Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, also known as Abu Shahid, was captured on July 4.

Al-Mashhadani is supposed to be close associate of the Egyptian-born head of al Qaeda in Iraq Abu Ayub al-Masri. He acted as an intermediary between al Masri and Osama bin Laden.

Most important communication between the senior al Qaeda leadership and al Masri frequently went through al Mashhadani.

He also told interrogators that Abu Omar al Baghdadi, who is identified as the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, is a fictional role created by al Masri and that an actor is used for audio recordings of speeches posted on the Internet.

Al Mashhadani was a leader of the militant Ansar al-Sunnah group before joining al-Qaeda in Iraq 2 1/2 years ago.

He was the al Qaeda's media chief for Baghdad and then was appointed the media chief for the whole country.