Senior Al Qaeda operative Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi captured

Osama bin Laden deputy in custody at Guantanamo Bay

The United States has scored a major victory against al Qaeda’s global network. Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, one of Osama bin Laden’s senior deputies who was “personally chosen by bin Laden to monitor al Qaeda operations in Iraq,” has been captured and transfered to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. government put a $1 million bounty out for Al-Hadi’s capture.

It is unknown as to who captured Abd al-Hadi, or where or when he was captured. “‘Abd al-Hadi was trying to return to his native country, Iraq, to manage al Qaeda’s affairs and possibly focus on operations outside Iraq against Western targets,” according to the Department of Defense. “‘Abd al-Hadi also met with al Qaeda members in Iran and believed that they should be doing more with the fight, including supporting efforts in Iraq and causing problems within Iran.” Last year, Coalition forces captured senior al Qaeda operative Omar Farouq in Basra after he left Afghanistan to plan operations inside Iraq.

Abd al-Hadi was al Qaeda’s Internal Operations Chief and served as an instructor as well as the commander of several al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. He was a major in Saddam Hussein’s Army prior to going to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union in the 1980s (his real name is Nashwan Abdulrazaq Abdulbaqi and he was born in Mosul in 1961). Al-Hadi also served on al Qaeda’s “ruling Shura Council – a now-defunct 10-person advisory body to Osama Bin Ladin – as well as the group’s Military Committee, which oversaw terrorist and guerrilla operations and paramilitary training.”

While in Pakistan, Abd al-Hadi directed cross-border military operations against U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Abd al-Hadi also served as a conduit between al Qaeda in Iraq, the Taliban and al Qaeda senior command operating inside Pakistan. He was behind the assassination attempts against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.


Video of Abd Al-Hadi Al-Iraqi firing a MANPADS missile at a US warplane in Afghanistan. Click to view.

“‘Abd al-Hadi was known and trusted by Bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri,” notes the Department of Defense. He was “in direct communication with both leaders and, at one point, was Zawahiri’s caretaker. ‘Abd al-Hadi also interacted with other senior al Qaeda planners and decision makers, such as Khalid Shaykh Muhammad and Abu Faraj al-Libi, and deceased al Qaeda members Hamza Rabi’a and ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Muhajir.” Al-Hadi is listed on Executive Order 13224 as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

A recently leaked British intelligence report indicated Al-Hadi was planning a major attack against Britain prior to Prime minister Tony Blair steps down from office this spring. A letter captured by British intelligence from Al-Hadi “stressed the need to take care to ensure that the attack was successful and on a large scale… The plan was to be relayed to an Iran-based al Qaeda facilitator.” Abd al-Hadi is also said to be one of the masterminds behind the 7/7 London Tubes bombing in 2006.

Al-Hadi’s capture and subsequent interrogation will likely yield significant intelligence on al Qaeda’s global operations, and specifically operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. Al-Hadi was a vital link in al Qaeda’s global network, who possesses knowledge on al Qaeda’s training, communications, personal ties and operations in the critical theaters of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Al-Hadi’s knowledge of al Qaeda’s command structure inside Pakistan will be of particular interest, as the U.S. believes Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri and other al Qaeda senior leaders are operating from command centers in Waziristan and Bajaur.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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  • joe says:

    I wonder if this arrest and its a good one is related to the arrests of 172 people in saudi arabia?

  • Jimbo says:

    Getting him could give us others….fingers crossed.

  • Z says:

    A huge win. IMO bigger than getting KSM. A comparable arrest would have been the 2005 capture in Pakistan of Syrian Mustafa Nasar, AKA Abu Musab al Suri. A Shura Council member with considerable influence over the direction of the jihad movement, and a dangerous terrorist and guerrilla in his own right.
    I’m sure the fact that he’s a former officer in the Iraqi army will get considerably play in neocon circles, but I’d caution jumping to conclusions. He’s a Kurd, and he deserted Saddam’s army for Afghanistan right around the time of Operation Anfal, Saddam’s worst crimes against the Kurdish North.
    It seems, in many cases, that you almost have to have anti-Saddam credentials to get on Bin Laden’s Shura Council. Suleiman Abu Gaith preached against Saddam from Kuwait before, during, and after Desert Storm. Abu Musab al Suri wrote critiques of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood insurgency (which he took part in) that blamed Saddam Hussein in the harshest terms possible for ‘corrupting’ the Brotherhood and ultimately betraying it to Hafez al Assad.
    Again, many thanks and commendations for the men and women who made the capture of this criminal possible. Your country is forever in your debt.

  • Jimbo says:

    What I find shocking is numerour media reports saying he has been in US hands since late 2006…….and IT DIDN’T LEAK…wow.

  • Thanos says:

    I agree this is a big fish, possibly one of the thirteen shura council members Zawahiri spoke of last September.

  • Keith says:

    joe-completely unrelated, as Abd al-Hadi has been completely focused on Af/Pak and Iraq.
    Bill-Arabic note. The “Abd” should not be seperated from the “al-Hadi”. “Abd” means “servent of”, while “al-Hadi” means “the right guidance” or in other words Allah. By leaving the “al-Hadi” alone, in essence, you’re saying God was al Qaeda’s internal operations chief, which I certainly hope isn’t the case or we’re all in big trouble. Abd al-Hadi is much like Abdallah, “servent of God”. You would never say just Allah. Makes for less typing in an article, but is an irratant to Muslims.

  • Richard Romano says:

    I wonder if he’ll be able to give some info on where Bin Laden is? Damn I want that guy caught.

  • crosspatch says:

    An interesting series of arrests have gone on recently in addition to the Saudi arrests. There was a positively huge roundup in Baghdad the other day with I think something like 270 people arrested. Then there was the rollup in Sadr City of a smuggling network connected to EFPs and Iran, not sure if that was rolled up in the same operation or not and if they are part of those 270+ people. Then there was the arrest in Greece of 6 Iraqis.
    Also there was the reported “leakage” of a document from British intelligence that spoke of an attack on the scale of “Hiroshima” that had al Iraqi’s name associated with it. That reporting seemed to place the attack in the UK or US. I have no way of knowing if that leakage was what precipitated the arrests or if it was intentional mis-information designed to mislead the plotters into believing we were looking in the wrong place for an attack and possibly promting a little last-minute chatter so we might collect just a little bit more information before the boom went down. Maybe it was something else entirely and there is yet another plot out there someplace. But that leak mentioned something worded like it was to target the “throne of Rome” which the papers seemed to take as a metaphor for the US or UK but I took to be a metaphor for the Saudi throne or the Holy See.
    It coud be that the leak of that information precipitated these arrests.

  • loba says:

    Hmm, I wonder if he was tortured or maybe manhandled just a little since no one knew about his arrest. That is, no one who could whine about the way proven terrorists are being (mis?)treated.
    Maybe all the relatives of the victims, from everywhere in the world, should be happy that the detainees are punished through induced obesity. If the government won’t then maybe diabetes will get them.
    I hope that more AQ nuts will be twisted for information and only after, given some time to have their bruises healed, to be anounced as “captured”.
    Send them to Guantanamo after they have visited the facilities in eastern Europe.
    All in all I’m glad they are slowly catching them even though others fill the void.

  • Quasi says:

    If the CIA is just now turning him over to the Pentagon then he has already been drained of all useful intel. The operations to capitalize on the intel he had have already taken place or they wouldn’t have told anyone that he was in custody.
    Telling us now is just a propaganda victory designed to boost our moral and demoralize the enemy. It’s sort of a modern day equivalent to chucking the heads of captured prisoners over the walls of the enemy’s fort. Albeit, somewhat less barbaric.
    I doubt he had information to point us directly to bin Laden, but I’ll wager that at least one more of his close pals is eating orange-glazed duck and praying on a fancy new rug at GITMO right now. We’ll hear about it in another 3 months if so.

  • crosspatch says:


    A senior military official in the capital, Islamabad, said the dead and wounded were making bombs and had accidentally caused an explosion.

  • Jimbo says:

    Crosspatch look who owned the religious school hit in this “work accident”…… Maulana Noor Mohammad

  • Z says:

    Sounds like a CIA op. Plausibly deniable for the Pentagon. Recall that the Hellfire strikes in Yemen and to kill Hamza Rabia were first blamed by local authorities on ‘bomb-making accidents.’ Both of those were CIA strikes through and through.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    There are several inaccuracies in the AP report, at least on the history of the strikes in the region. I will try to sort this out tonight and give an update. Briefly, Maulana Noor Mohammad operates madrassa in Quetta, and Faqir Mohammed’s home in Damadola, Bajaur was struck in January of 2006. It seems the AP is getting their Mohammeds in a bunch. Although it may be possible Noor Mohammad has a home in North Waziristan, he and Faqir are definitely not the same person.

  • Jimbo says:

    This is the passage that is confusing people.

    ——The schools hit Friday belonged to Maulana Noor Mohammad, a pro-Taliban cleric whose house was hit by an explosion in January 2006 that killed eight people. Tribal leaders complained then U.S. helicopters launched the attack.—–

    Two months later, Pakistani aircraft and troops assailed a suspected al-Qaida camp in the same village. The government claimed the attack killed 45 people, including a Chechen militant leader.—-

  • Failing at national security

    The news was announced on Friday that the mastermind of the 7/7 London attacks was captured in Iraq by US troops more than five months ago. An Iraqi man accused of being a key aide to Osama bin Laden and

  • Marlin says:

    The Asia Times certainly does not love America. However, from time-to-time Syed Saleem Shahzad presents information that makes sense to me. This claim seems likely to contain some truth.
    Internal squabbling between the Taliban and al-Qaeda and exploited by Pakistan forced many al-Qaeda leaders to move from the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iraq in search of new headquarters from which to operate.
    Senior al-Qaeda member Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, 46, was one of these men – and he paid dearly for the move after being fingered by Pakistan. On Friday, the Pentagon announced that Hadi had been arrested late last year and handed over to the US Central Intelligence Agency.
    Pakistan’s priorities were crystal-clear: it did not want anti-establishment elements thriving under the garb of takfiri ideology, although it had no problem with the Taliban regrouping and carrying out actions in Afghanistan.
    Leaders such as Haji Omar, Baitullah Mehsud, Sadiq Noor – all close to al-Qaeda – and other prominent commanders were put in the background and Haji Nazir became the most powerful Taliban commander in South Waziristan. Nazir, who was little known only a year ago, was the one who ordered the recent massacre of takfiri and anti-Pakistani establishment Uzbeks in South Waziristan.
    These developments, including the infiltration by the Pakistani establishment of the rank and file of the Taliban, rattled al-Qaeda, which realized that its ideology was no longer acceptable in Waziristan and Afghanistan, and that the only way it could stay in Afghanistan was if it agreed to fight under Taliban commanders.
    This was intolerable for operators such as Hadi, and dozens of them began the move to Iraq from Waziristan and Afghanistan. And Islamabad swooped on the chance when its intelligence learned of Hadi’s movements and passed on the information to the US, thereby closing a powerful chapter of al-Qaeda’s operations.
    1. Takfiris hold that Muslims who hold anything less than an extreme view of Islam that is intolerant of non-Muslims are themselves no better than kafirs – infidels.
    How Pakistan settled an al-Qaeda score

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Unfortunately the events don’t support Syed’s conclusions. Baitullah Mehsud is as powerful as ever, and is expanding into Tank and other districts. I could go on here, but there is no evidence this split between the Taliban and AQ exists.

  • Marlin says:

    Bill –
    I should have been more specific in my earlier post. I am in complete agreement with you that Baitullah Mehsud is as powerful as ever. I wonder though if the recent fighting between the Uzbeks and the Pakistan Taliban couldn’t have made some of the other al Qaeda operatives staying in the tribal areas nervous. And I also wonder if the Pakistani intelligence couldn’t have gotten wind of the movement of Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi and passed this information along to American intelligence.

  • Marlin says:

    Al Iraqi was apparently caught, a few months ago, while crossing the border from Iran into Iraq. There, al Iraqi was apparently going to get involved in leading al Qaeda operations in Iraq. The CIA indicates that al Iraqi has provided useful information on al Qaeda operations throughout the region. Of particular interest were the meetings al Iraqi had with al Qaeda personnel in Iran. Apparently. al Iraqi was one of many al Qaeda members getting out of Pakistan because of deteriorating relations with the Taliban. It’s possible that someone in Pakistan tipped off the Americans that al Iraqi was headed west.
    StrategyPage: The Perils of Porn

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Hi Marlin,
    Strategy Page is just repeating Syed’s claim (and not sourcing it, they never source their material). Syed’s claim that the Taliban and al Qaeda have split in the tribal zones is essentially Pakistani government propaganda.
    Also, Abd al-Hadi left Pakistan BEFORE the Waziristan infighting (which also was manipulated by the Pakistani government) so the fighting there couldn’t have influenced his movements.


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