U.S. forces in Iraq say they just missed capturing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of an al-Qaeda-linked group blamed for a series of violent attacks, a senior U.S. military official said Tuesday.
In February, American troops were in place to capture the Jordanian-born militant, after being reportedly tipped off that he was travelling for a meeting in Ramadi, west of Fallujah.
Troops pulled over the truck al-Zarqawi was believed to be in, but he was not inside. The official told ABC News that al-Zarqawi apparently jumped out of the truck when it passed beneath an overpass and hid there before escaping.
Although al-Zarqawi escaped, the military found his laptop computer. CNN, citing sources, reported it contained “a treasure trove of information,” including direct connections to Osama bin Laden.
NBC reported that among the items seized with the laptop were several small plug-in hard drives. Numerous pictures of al-Zarqawi were found in the computer’s ”My Pictures” file, NBC said.
U.S forces also recovered $104,000 US.
Al-Zarqawi is believed to be behind a series of deadly attacks, abductions and beheadings in Iraq that have killed hundreds. The U.S. has offered a $25-million US reward for al-Zarqawi’s capture or killing.