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. Click map to view.

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.

This update was compiled with information from reports from CNN and Reuters.

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



  • Z says:

    US confirmation that Jabouri was both a major Al Qaeda leader AND the man behind Jill Carroll’s kidnapping is pretty strong corroboration of Carroll’s account that, while in captivity, she was confronted by Abdallah Rashid al Baghdadi, the declared chief of the Mujahideen Shura Council, now a part of the Islamic State of Iraq.
    Like Abu Omar, no one seems to be sure exactly who Abdallah Rashid is. Carroll might be one of the few non-insurgents who could pick him out of a line-up.

  • Marlin says:

    I have no idea how accurate this is; but it is interesting.
    Just in from PJM Bahgdad editor Omar Fadhil (May 3, 1.48 am PDT): Al-Iraqiya state TV has just reported that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of al-Qaeda’s political front organization the Islamic State of Iraq, has been killed in the Ghazaliya district in western Baghdad.
    Al-Iraqiya says Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier general Abdul Kareem Khalaf confirmed that the ministry’s forces have retrieved al-Baghdadi’s body.
    Unlike the alleged killing of Abu Ayyub al-Masri earlier this week, today there’s an official statement from a high Iraqi official and the incident took place inside the Iraqi capital, not in a remote area where information is more difficult to collect and rumors abound. Still, the news is yet to be confirmed by more sources including US officials.
    Another Al-Qaeda Top Leader Down in Iraq

  • Jimbo says:

    This is turning into an Abbott and Costello skit.

  • RJ says:

    Taking out leaders is always good. Knowing who replaces them sooner is even better! The question here may be “does this represent a shifting of desire within Iraq wherein differing factions are starting to align themselves with the idea that a democratic Iraq is much better than a quasi theocracy?” I would like to think so, even though I think it is too late to shift American opinion on Iraqis’ attitude toward being set free from Sadamn, and their willingness to embrace a collective unity. I say we have no more than five months left of this wavering.

  • crosspatch says:

    I would say the taking out of leadership is important but I would also want people to take a few things into consideration. First, as the more capable and disciplined leadership is removed, there might be an upsurge in violence by the less disciplined members of the organization who had been kept in check. That would be a short term negative but a long term positive as these people would tend to take risks that allow them to be caught and killed. It also is always possible that capable leadership can rise to replace those who are lost. While it would be intuitive to think that they are deep into their second and third string of leadership, it is also possible for quite talented individuals to rise to the surface under these conditions too. The bottom line is that I would caution folks not to assume anything and to keep focused on the events themselves as they play out.

  • John Knowlton says:

    Even if this is unconfirmed, the volume of this kind of news, plus lots of dead terrorists and captured terrorists, it is clear that the volume of intelligence has picked up, that we are getting more actionable tips, that the Iraq security forces are doing more and more and that one capture/kill invariably leads to more. There seems to be an accelerating pace, which is good.

  • Tony says:

    I have seen nothing to rule out the possibility that the death of Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri, Minister of Information for AQ in Iraq, was killed as a result of the chatter he produced trying to confirm or deny earlier reports of al-Masri’s demise.
    This is a standard practice, harvesting the fruits of the chatter caused by disinformation. Very common.
    I’m not saying this is what happened.
    I’m just saying I am not ruling it out as a logical consequence of what we actually know.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Muharib Abdul Latif al-Jubouri
    – Was killed in raid on 1 May 4miles west of Taji by US
    – Was removed for ID to Baghdad
    – Was DNA ID’d on 3 May
    – Body released to member of tribe for burial
    – Member of tribe and body was stopped in Baghdad enr to mosque
    – Detained again and that is where the Baghdadi claim got started
    – Sorted out
    – Re-released for burial
    See MG Caldwell’s brief, there appears to have been a comms disconnect on the body release and the checkpoints…
    MNF-I does not know if there is a person called “al Baghdadi” and they do not have a body or detainee suspected of being al Masri or “al Baghdadi”…

  • Z says:

    Islamic State has confirmed the death of Jubouri. They also add that he was the commander of the ‘Strangers Brigades’ that joined Al Qaeda under the Mujahideen Shura Council in January 2006.
    I’m surprised at how little background is available on the leaders of the Iraqi insurgency. We know all about the likes of Zarqawi, and there are bits and pieces available on some of his successors and/or lieutenants, but most of these guys seem to remain anonymous except for their nommes des guerre.


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