Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, whom the US occupation authorities declared to be the “target number one” in Iraq, has been arrested in the city of Baakuba, the Emirate newspaper al-Bayane reported on Tuesday referring to Kurdish sources.
Al-Zarqawi, leader of the terrorist group Al-Tawhid Wa’al-Jihad, was recently appointed the director of the Al-Qaeda organisation in Iraq.
The newspaper’s correspondent in Baghdad points out that a report on the seizure of the terrorist, on whom the US put a bounty of US$10 million, was also reported by Iraqi Kurdistan radio, which at one time had been the first to announce the arrest of Saddam Hussein.
There have been no official reports about the arrest of the terrorist. Al-Zarqawi, 38, a Jordanian, whose real name is Ahmad al-Khalayleh, aims to turn Iraq into a “new Afghanistan”.
According to Arab press data, Al-Tawhid Wa’al-Jihad group has divided Iraq into several emirates. The group’s independent subdivisions at a strength of 50 to 500 militants operate in the cities of Al-Falluja, Al-Qaim, Diala, and Samarra.
The personnel of the group is on the whole 1,500-strong and includes Iraqis and citizens of Arab and Islamic countries. There are demolition experts and missilemen among them.
The group has depots of weapons and explosives in various parts of the country. It intends to frustrate the upcoming parliamentary elections that are scheduled for the end of this month. Al-Tawhid Wa’al-Jihad threatens to do away with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and members of the interim government.
UPDATED 1/4/2004 23:06 CST
Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 4 (UPI) — A semi-official daily reported Tuesday Iraqi police captured an “important terrorist,” believed to be Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in a raid east of Baghdad.
There was no official confirmation of the report.
The daily al-Sabah said it received information a “very important terrorist figure” was captured in the city of Diali during a large-scale raid by U.S.-backed Iraqi police.