Unconfirmed report: Abu Omar al Baghdadi killed; Al Qaeda's information minister confirmed killed
A map of the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq from an al Qaeda video. Image from MEMRI.
Leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq reported killed by Iraqi Interior Ministry; Coalition announces the death of Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri, al Qaeda Iraq's senior minister of information
On the heals of the still unconfirmed reports of the death of al Qaeda in Iraq's leader, Abu Ayyub al Masri, the Iraqi Interior Ministry has announced that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda's political front the Islamic State of Iraq, has been killed during combat in the town of Dhuluiya in Salahadin province. "Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was killed north of Baghdad by Iraqi and American forces," Hussein Kamal, the Deputy Interior Minister told Reuters "He died as a result of wounds sustained in clashes. The Interior Ministry has his body to carry out further checks."
"Iraqi Security Forces, based on intelligence they have been tracking for some time, intercepted militants early Thursday carrying al-Baghdadi's body in the western Baghdad region of Ghazaliya," CNN reported. "People from Duluiya identified the body and confirmed that a voice on audiotape thought to be al-Baghdadi was in fact the militant." Iraq's Interior Ministry has taken credit for al Baghdadi demise in the past, only to have the claims shot down. The ministry announced al Baghdadi's death three separate times during the month of March, and once in February of 2006.
From The Jawa Report: image believed to be Abdul Latif al-Jubouri. Click to view.
Like the al Masri claims, Multinational Forces Iraq has refused to confirm or deny the claim of al Baghdadi's demise. Major General William Caldwell held a press conference today announcing the death of Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri, al Qaeda Iraq's senior minister of information. Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri is suspected to have been behind the kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll. He was killed west of Taji in Salahadin province. Al-Jubouri's death may explain the report of al Masri's death.
Major General Caldwell also stated that Multinational Forces Iraq is not in custody of either al Masri or al Baghdadi. "We have nobody in our possession or know of anybody that does, alive or dead, that is going through any kind of testing or analysis at this point with respect to those two individuals," he said.
al Qaeda established the Islamic State of Iraq in October of 2006 to put an Iraqi face on al Qaeda's operations in Iraq and unite the Sunni disparate elements of the insurgency. al Qaeda claims the Islamic State of Iraq is comprised of "Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, Ninawa, and in other parts of the governorate of Babel." The declaration of the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq followed the creation of the "Mutayibeen Coalition," which includes six Anbar tribes, as well as three smaller insurgent groups. In mid April, al Baghdadi named the ministers of the cabinet of the rump Islamic State of Iraq.
Iraq expert Nibras Kazimi has attempted to divine the true identity of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. Mr. Kazimi identified al Baghdadi as Khalid Khalil Ibrahim al-Mashhadani. Interior Ministry identifies al Baghdadi as Muharib Abdullah al-Jibouri. CNN reported that Maj Gen Caldwell "said it is not known who al-Baghdadi is or whether he exists." The naming of al Baghdadi as the Caliph for the Islamic State under a pseudonym is a major point of disagreement between the Islamic State of Iraq and Islamist insurgent groups such as the Islamic Army of Iraq, which has split from al Qaeda's front and formed the rival Reformation and Jihad Front.
Whether or not al Masri or al Baghdadi were killed in the recent skirmishes, the southern tip of Salahidin has become a hub of fighting between al Qaeda and U.S. and Iraq forces. Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri was killed near Taji. Al Masri was also reported to have been killed in Salahadin province, at the hands of tribal fighters loyal to the Anbar Salvation Front, who are operating beyond their provincial boundaries.