May 25, 2005

Zarqawi Wounded, Fled Iraq, Two Aides Arrested

The group formerly known as Tawhid and Jihad and which has known ties to Osama bin Laden appears to be in complete meltdown mode. An Islamst message board frequently used by Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq claims that the terrorist mastermind has fled the country. The post was put up by frequent al Qaeda linked poster 'al-Khalidi'. Thanks to James Joyner who sends this UPI story along:

A militant Islamic Web site reported Wednesday Iraq al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was evacuated from Iraq after being injured.

Zarqawi`s group, al-Qaida Organization in Mesopotamia, said in a statement carried on the site Zarqawi was moved secretly to a neighboring country with the help of doctors from the Arab Peninsula and the Sudan.

The group did not identify the country to which Zarqawi was evacuated but said he is in a stable condition after a bullet pierced the right side of his chest causing breathing problems.

The original post says that Zarqawi's lung was punctured by the bullet.
The group said in a message on the Web site Tuesday Zarqawi had been wounded. It asked for "prayers for our leader," and expressed pride at what they described as his heroic wounds. It did not say how or when the Jordanian-born Zarqawi was hurt.
Meanwhile other Zarqawi related stories show increased U.S. pressure on the terrorist organization. ABC (Australia):
Iraqi and US troops have arrested two top aides of Al-Qaeda's Iraq frontman, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and are hot on the heels of militants loyal to him in north-western Iraq, commanders said today, a day after the country's most wanted man was reported wounded.

Described as "one of the most wanted people" in northern Iraq, Mullah Kamel al-Assawadi was detained after he tried to bribe his way past an Iraqi checkpoint, the US military said.

One of Zarqawi's regional secretaries was also detained in the restive provincial capital of Baquba, north of Baghdad, a statement said.

"Assawadi was questioned by an Iraqi soldier at a checkpoint close to Balad," an insurgent stronghold near Baquba, the military said without giving a date for his arrest.

Described as one of Zarqawi's top lieutenants, Assawadi had on him various identity papers as well as dollars with which he tried to buy the soldier's silence.

"He tried to hide his identity but several detainees recognised him and he is currently held at a multi-national forces detention centre where he is being questioned," the statement added.

Assawadi allegedly financed and provided military training to an insurgent cell and helped prepare car bombs.

"He was linked to numerous Wahhabis (Saudi-inspired Sunni militants) operating north of Baghdad," said the statement, adding that Assawadi was based in the Sunni insurgent bastion of Samarra, a city north of Baghdad which was retaken from rebels in a massive US-backed assault last autumn.

The Iraqi Defence Ministry meanwhile announced that the Army and allied forces had "arrested Zarqawi's secretary for Diyala province, Agha Omar, on Tuesday in Baquba," without providing further details.

Also thanks to others who e-mailed me about Zarqawi being wounded a few days ago--I just didn't have time to jump on the news then.

1754 thinks Zarqawi might have fled to Syria. Maybe, but it would be odd for one of Zarqawi's chief propagandists to mention the obvious--namely that Zarqawi is in Syria.

UPDATE: Do chiggers ever attack the anal cavity?

UPDATE II: Athena over at Terrorism Unveiled makes this excellent point, "Now, this would seem to be more of a disinformation ploy than the first allegation [that Zarqawi was wounded] in order to stop troops from trying to locate the (hopefully) immobile Zarqawi."

UPDATE III: Other jihadists denying the claim. Guardian:

Soon, the statement appeared on another militant site, where other posters quickly denounced it as untrue and unauthorized by the terror group.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:18 AM | Comments |