Monday, August 25, 2008


The alleged mastermind behind the kidnapping in Baghdad of American journalist Jill Carroll in 2006 (and the shooting of her interpreter Alan John Ghazi aka Alan Enwiyah) has been arrested along with a second, senior al-Qaeda suspect, the US military said last night. Associates of Salim Abdallah Ashur al-Shujayri are also thought to have been involved in the kidnap and murder of Margaret Hassan, the aid worker seized by insurgents in west Baghdad in October 2004, and the kidnap of Norman Kember, the British peace campaigner.

The announcement came as a suicide bomber struck a group of people at a dinner gathering, west of the Iraqi capital, killing at least 25 and wounding up to 32. A video purporting to show the execution of Mrs Hassan, who has British, Irish and Iraqi nationality, was shown a month after her disappearance. The 59-year-old’s body has never been found.

Mr Kember was seized in Baghdad in November 2006 with three other Christian peacemakers. One man, American Tom Fox, was killed. The Briton, then 74, and two Canadian colleagues were rescued by special forces in March 2006.

Coalition forces captured Shujayri, known as Abu Uthman, on August 11. The US military described him as reportedly being the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader of Baghdad’s eastern Rusafa district. “He is believed to be the planner behind the kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll,” a statement said.

Ms Carroll, 30, who worked for the Christian Science Monitor in Baghdad, was taken hostage at gunpoint on January 7, 2006. Her interpreter Alan Enwiyah, 32, was shot dead and his body abandoned nearby by the kidnappers during the abduction. Carroll's driver, quoted in a story posted on the Monitor's website, said gunmen jumped in front of the car, pulled him from it, and drove off with their two captives all within 15 seconds. Alan Enwiyah, also known as Alan John Ghazi, was formerly a well-known music retailer in Baghdad. She was released almost three months later. The US military also said that coalition forces seized a second alleged al-Qaeda operative in a separate operation in the Iraqi capital on August 17.

Ali Nash Jiyad al-Shammari, known as Abu Tiba, is accused of being al-Qaeda’s senior advisor in Baghdad. The military also said that he was previously reported to be the group’s chief in the capital’s western Karkh district during its most active operational period in early 2007. Shammari is alleged to have approved targets for car and suicide bombings against Iraqi civilians.

US military spokesman Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll praised the detentions.
"The capture of Abu Tiba and Abu Uthman eliminates two of the few remaining experienced leaders in the al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) network,” he said. Al-Qaeda’s ability to conduct attacks has suffered a blow following a crackdown by US and Iraqi forces as well as a decision by many Sunni insurgents to turn against the extremist group.

It was unclear who carried out the latest bombing on Sunday evening, however. The attack took place at the home of a local sheikh in Abu Ghraib who was holding a feast to celebrate the release of his son from US detention, police said

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