Slain Qaeda commander arrived in Iraq under Saddam: Widow
The Egyptian commander of Al-Qaeda forces in Iraq who was killed in a US-backed raid this month arrived in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein's rule, a press report on Wednesday quoted his widow as saying.world Updated: Apr 28, 2010 18:55 IST
The Egyptian commander of Al-Qaeda forces in Iraq who was killed in a US-backed raid this month arrived in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein's rule, a press report on Wednesday quoted his widow as saying.
Hasna, the widow of Abdel Moneim Ezzeddine Ali al-Badawi, better known by his nom de guerre Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was arrested in the same April 18 operation in the Lake Tharthar area, south of Baghdad, in which her husband was killed.
She told her interrogators that her husband travelled to Iraq from the United Arab Emirates in 2002, the year before Saddam's overthrow by US-led troops, the Al-Bayan newspaper reported.
"He arrived in Baghdad before me and I followed him shortly afterwards coming from Amman," the paper, which is close to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, quoted her as saying.
"We lived in Karrada (in central Baghdad) for seven months, then in Amiriya (in west Baghdad), then we moved to Baghdad al-Jadida (in the east) in 2003 when Saddam's regime fell with the entry of Americans into the city," she said.
Hasna's reported comments are significant because in the run-up to the US-led invasion, US officials alleged links between Saddam Hussein's secular regime and Al-Qaeda, which were strenuously denied at the time.
She said she met her husband in her native Yemen where they got married in the capital Sanaa in 1998 and went on to have three children together.
He had entered Yemen using a fake passport under the name Yussef Haddad Labib and taught in village schools outside the capital, Al-Bayan quoted her as saying.
After the US-led invasion, the family left Baghdad for Diyala to the north, a confessionally mixed province that went on to become an Al-Qaeda stronghold.
"The two-storey house where we were was hit in a US air raid," the paper quoted her as saying.
"One of the men was killed but my husband and I were able to escape to Fallujah," a Sunni Arab town west of Baghdad that was at the time a bastion of the anti-US insurgency.
After US troops stormed the town in November 2004, the family moved again, this time to Abu Ghraib, a town on the western outskirts of the capital notorious for its prison and the revelation of abuse of detainees by US guards there.
In 2007, they moved to the Lake Tharthar area. "We were changing houses the whole time, right up to his death," she said.
Hasna said her husband had always been a "secretive character.'
"I only found out that he was Abu Ayub al-Masri after the death of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi," she said, referring to the notorious Jordanian commander of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed in a 2006 US air raid and replaced by her husband.
First Published: Apr 28, 2010 18:54 IST