Reuters reported today that Abu Talha, a senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader who had served as a key commander for Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was among 14 terrorists and criminals who were executed on Tuesday:
“The Justice Ministry executed 14 Iraqis – terrorists and criminals – in Baghdad on Tuesday,” a senior Justice Ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.
They included Abu Talha who headed an al Qaeda affiliate, Islamic State of Iraq, in the northern city of Mosul and the provinces of Anbar and Salahuddin, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Abu Talha’s real name was Muhammad Khalaf Shakar. In addition to being a senior member of al Qaeda in Iraq, he also was a commander in Ansar al Islam. Before he was captured by US special operations forces in June 2005, he was considered to be a potential successor to Zarqawi.
At the time of Abu Talha’s arrest, CENTCOM said that he had “never stayed more than one night at any one residence, and always wore a suicide vest, saying he would never surrender.”
Iraq seems intent on killing off those top leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq who are currently in custody. Today, Aswat al Iraq reported that an unnamed Saudi al Qaeda operative “with the initials BA” has been sentenced to death:
A leading al-Qaeda Commander, of Saudi nationality and holding the post of Military Emir (Prince) of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq’s city of Mosul, has been sentenced to death by the Central Iraqi Criminal Court, according to a statement from within the High Judicial Council on Wednesday.
“The defendant, with the initials BA, who had occupied the post of the Military Emir (Prince) of the Right Side of Mosul in 2008, during the leadership of the former al-Qaeda Commander Abu-Musaab al-Zarqawi, was sentenced for execution by the High Judcial Criminal Court,” the statement, as was received by Aswat al-Iraq news agency, stressed.
The statement pointed out that the defendant had confessed to having contributed to the Falluja battle in west Iraq, during which he lost one of his legs and was sentenced for 15 years imprisonment; at the time he gave a false name, claiming to be an Iraqi and confessed to having carried out terrorist acts, aimed at deteriorating the security situation in the country.
Although the initials do not match, it is possible that the al Qaeda leader to be executed is Ibrahim Ahmad Umar Nasir al Sabawi, who was identified as al Qaeda’s emir of eastern Mosul when he was captured by the US military in 2008. Sabawi’s nationality was not given, however. Another Saudi, Abu Yasir al Saudi, served as al Qaeda’s emir for southeastern Mosul before he was killed in an airstrike by US forces in 2008.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.