Here’s what we know (courtesy FN):
- His name: Abu Omar al-Baghdadi
- Self proclaimed Amir of the Islamic State of Iraq
- Has taken credit for many of the major outbreaks of violence in Iraq of late.
- Considered Al Qaeda’s top man in Iraq. With the Sunni insurgency being whittled down to Al Qaeda’s activity in Iraq recently, he has become an even more significant player.
- Said to have headed the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an alliance of Al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations which was set up last year to downplay the role of foreigners in the Iraqi insurgency.
- The name first surfaced after Al-Zarqawi’s death, when the Mujahedeen Shura Council posted a condolence message on a militant Web site.
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was captured Friday in a raid in Abu Ghraib on the western outskirts of Baghdad, said Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesman of the Baghdad security operation. U.S. officials had no confirmation of the capture.
“One of the terrorists who was arrested with him confessed that the one in our hands is al-Baghdadi,” al-Moussawi said.
Al-Baghdadi has been identified in statements posted on Islamic extremist Web sites as the head of the Islamic State, which was proclaimed last year after the death of the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Al-Baghdadi was said to have headed the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an alliance of al-Qaida and other jihadist organizations, which was set up last year to downplay the role of foreigners in the Iraqi insurgency. The name first surfaced after al-Zarqawi’s death, when the Mujahedeen Shura Council posted a condolence message on a militant Web site.
“As for you the slaves of the cross (U.S.-led coalition forces), the grandsons of Ibn al-Alqami (Shiites), and every infidel of the Sunnis, we can’t wait to sever your necks with our swords,” the message read.
It was signed by Abdullah bin Rashid al-Baghdadi, who was identified as the council leader.
In a tape released last November, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq called on Sunni Muslims to pledge their allegiance to a new state that militants have said they created in Iraq, and said al-Baghdadi was its ruler.
“I vow allegiance to you,” Abu Hamza al-Muhajir said in the tape. He addressed al-Baghdadi as the “ruler of believers” and placed al-Qaida in Iraq fighters under his command.