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Al-Qaeda confirms death of top operative in Iraq

The purported leader of Al-Qaeda's umbrella group in Iraq has confirmed the death of a top operative who the US military said was killed in an attack last month.

world Updated: Dec 23, 2007 18:09 IST

The purported leader of Al-Qaeda's umbrella group in Iraq has confirmed the death of a top operative who the US military said was killed in an attack last month, according to a new audiotape.

The US military had said it captured or killed 40 Al-Qaeda fighters last month, including a Syrian who died in a November 17 raid on a reported propaganda house. The Syrian, identified as Abu Maysara, had escaped from an Iraqi prison in March. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, praised Maysara as "a well experienced mujahid (holy warrior) and propagandist."

In the 46-minite long audio tape posted on an Islamic militant website on Saturday, al-Baghdadi also said Maysara was the author of "Abu Zubaida Security Manual," which was used as a training guideline by the terror group in Iraq.

He also announced the death of two other terrorists, which he identified as Abu Ra'ed and Abu Abdellah, which he also called Mohammed Suleiman, but he made no mention of their nationalities or backgrounds.

In his audiotape, which could not be independently verified, al-Baghdadi also called on militants to kill members of the militias instead of slaughtering animals to mark Eid al-Adha - a four-day religious holiday for Muslims marked by the sacrifice of cows, sheep, goats and bulls. The holiday ended on Saturday.

No photo has ever appeared of al-Baghdadi, whom the US describes as a fictitious character used to give an Iraqi face to an organization dominated by foreigners. The US has said that under interrogation, a top Al-Qaeda member revealed that al-Baghdadi's speeches are read by an actor.