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.