Abu Bakr al Baghdadi al Husseini al Qurshi, the emir or leader of al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq [right]; and Din Allah Abu Suleiman, the Islamic State of Iraq’s war minister [left]. Photos from Al Sumaria.
The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s political front in Iraq, denied that its emir, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi al Husseini al Qurshi, or Abu Du’a, was captured by Iraqi security forces earlier this week.
The Iraqi terror group’s denial of al Baghdadi’s alleged capture was issued in a statement released today on al Qaeda-linked Internet forums. The official statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
“We deny such claims [of his capture] altogether and in its details,” the statement says, according to SITE. “Sheikh al Baghdadi, may Allah preserve him with His company, is in the best state of being among his family and his brothers.”
The Islamic State of Iraq called the reports of al Baghdadi’s capture part of “fabricated lies about the achievement of the failed security agencies,” and said the “security situation” in Iraq is continuing to deteriorate due to the group’s attacks.
Reports of al Baghdadi’s capture first emerged on Iraqi news sites as well as Al Jazeera on Dec. 2, but no information confirming his detention was released. Iraqi officials told Al Jazeera that al Baghdadi was captured by a “counter-terrorism unit” following “a two-month long investigation tracking him,” and that he was being interrogated.
Iraqi officials have a spotty record for reporting on the death or capture of top al Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraqi leaders, but that record has improved over the past several years.
Background on al Baghdadi
Al Baghdadi, whose real name is Dr. Ibrahim ‘Awwad Ibrahim ‘Ali, and who also goes by the nom de guerre Abu Du’a, became the head of al Qaeda in Iraq after Abu Omar al Baghdadi, his predecessor and the founder of al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq, was killed by Iraqi and US troops in April 2010. Also killed in that same raid was Abu Ayyub al Masri, the Egyptian-born “War Minister” of al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Baghdadi is an Iraqi from the central city of Samarra.
Al Baghdadi was appointed by al Qaeda’s central leadership as emir of the Islamic State. Abu Abdullah al Husseini al Qurshi was named as his deputy, and Nasser al Din Allah Abu Suleiman was named the new War Minister. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda appoints new ‘war minister’ for Iraq.]
After al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid by US special operations forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011, al Baghdadi issued a eulogy for him and “threatened violent retaliation” for his death. Al Qaeda in Iraq then proceeded to carry out multiple mass-casualty suicide attacks and terror assaults in Iraq.
The US government added al Baghdadi to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in October 2011. Additionally, a $10 million bounty offered by the US through State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security Rewards for Justice program marked Abu Du’a as one of the top five most-wanted terrorists in the world. The other four are Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda, for whom the US has offered a $25 million reward; Mullah Omar, the head of the Afghan Taliban; Hafiz Saeed, the emir of Lashkar-e-Taiba; and Yasin al Suri, a senior al Qaeda leader based in Iran, for whom a $10 million reward has been offered.