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Coalition Forces Capture Two Key al-Qaida Leaders in Baghdad

American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Aug. 25, 2008 – Coalition forces captured two suspected senior al-Qaida in Iraq leaders here during recent operations, military officials reported.

Salim Abdallah Ashur al-Shujayri, also known as Abu Uthman, was captured Aug. 11. He reportedly is the al-Qaida emir of Baghdad’s Rusafa district. Ali Rash Nasir Jiyad al-Shammari, also known as Abu Tiba, was captured Aug. 17. Both men are assessed to be long-time members of al-Qaida in Iraq, officials said.

Coalition officials said Abu Tiba is believed to be the al-Qaida senior advisor in Baghdad, providing guidance and targeting assistance to subordinates throughout the city, including Abu Uthman, officials said. Abu Tiba is suspected of terrorist activity since 2005. He was previously reported to be the emir of the Karkh district of Baghdad, and he managed the al-Qaida presence in the capital during its most active operational period in early 2007.

He reportedly oversaw financial and attack operations for up to 15 attack cells, providing them with money, weapons and explosives. He is alleged to have personally approved targets for car and suicide bombings targeting Iraqi civilians.

In Baghdad's Rusafa district, Abu Uthman is suspected of overseeing car bombings and suicide attacks by his network, which targeted Iraqi civilians and attempted to incite sectarian violence, officials said. Reporting also indicates he associates with al-Qaida in Iraq senior leaders, including Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.

Abu Uthman initially was a leader in another extremist group, where he handled the group's finances and oversaw a group of 100 subordinates, officials said. He is alleged to have participated in both battles in Fallujah in April and November 2004, when other terrorists began calling him "Abu Nimr," meaning "The Tiger."

He is believed to be the planner behind the January 2006 kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll, who was released three months later. Abu Uthman’s associates allegedly have been involved in several other kidnappings, including those of a group of Christian peacemakers who were kidnapped in November 2005 and held captive for four months, and aid worker Margaret Hassan, who was abducted and killed in 2004.

"The capture of Abu Tiba and Abu Uthman eliminates two of the few remaining experienced leaders in the [al-Qaida in Iraq] network," said Navy Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "Iraqi and coalition forces have made great strides in improving security in Iraq, especially in Baghdad."

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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