Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Iraq Probes Reports of al-Masri's death

From the AP:

U.S. and Iraqi officials chased reports Tuesday that the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq was killed by rivals north of Baghdad. But U.S. authorities urged caution and warned that even if the claim were true, the death of the shadowy Abu Ayyub al-Masri would likely not spell the end of the terror movement in Iraq.

Reports of al-Masri's death first emerged from the Interior Ministry, which said the al-Qaida leader was gunned down by rivals in his movement Tuesday at a bridge near Lake Tharthar just north of Baghdad, where the U.S. military believes al-Qaida operates training camps.

Later, however, ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said al-Masri's death had not been confirmed. Another senior official, Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, told The Associated Press that "we are trying to investigate and confirm the report."

Other Iraqi officials said word of the purported death came from an informant and that efforts were under way to retrieve the body. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is sensitive.

An al-Qaida front organization denied that al-Masri, an Egyptian also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer with a $1 million bounty on his head, had been killed. The Islamic State of Iraq said in a Web statement that al-Masri was "alive and still fighting the enemy of God." more

This is the second time in as many months he's been reported as having been killed. One would think that the MSM would would have been a little more hesitant to report it the second time.