The Iraqi Army claimed to have captured the minister of defense of the Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s political front organization. Ahmed Turki Abbas was captured after being wounded in a skirmish near Mahmudiyah and “claimed the rank of defense minister,” Qassim al Moussawi, Iraq’s military spokesman told Reuters.
Confirmation on the arrest of Abbas — likely a nom de guerre — has not been given by Multinational Forces Iraq at this time. The Iraqi government has made claims of killing and capturing Abu Omar al Baghdadi several times this year, which turned out to be false reports or cases of mistaken identity.
Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, is officially listed as the minister of defense for the Islamic State of Iraq, according to a press release put out by the terror group in April. But over the summer, it became known the Islamic State of Iraq was the invention of al Masri, who serves as the emir, or leader, of the group. Abu Omar al Baghdadi is actually a fictional character played by an Iraqi actor named Abu Abdullah al Naima. This information was revealed after the captured of Abu Muhammad al Mashadani, the former minister of information for the Islamic State of Iraq.
With al Masri serving as the emir of both the Islamic State of Iraq and al Qaeda in Iraq, the portfolio of defense minister was delegated to Abbas, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
After learning of the arrest of Abbas, Marvin Hutchens of ThreatsWatch.org agreed with that assessment. “For purely pragmatic reasons, Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq need as many Iraqi names in leadership posts as possible,” said Hutchens in an interview. “They are selling their legitimacy as the Iraqi state and having al Masri known as the minister of defense hides his real role as the foreign leader of an illegitimate insurgent state.”
If Abbas’ capture is confirmed, he would be the third member of the cabinet of the Islamic State to be captured or killed this year. Muharib Abdul Latif al Jabouri, the minister of public relations, was killed during a major battle between the Anbar Awakening and al Qaeda in the town of Dhuluiya in neighboring Salahadin province last May.