The leader of the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, has been captured, an Iraqi military spokesman said today.
US officials had no confirmation of the statement by Brigadier General Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesman of the Baghdad security operation.
Al-Moussawi said al-Baghdadi was captured in a raid in Abu Ghraib on the western outskirts of Baghdad.
“One of the terrorists who was arrested with him confessed that the one in our hands is al-Baghdadi,” al-Moussawi said.
A prominent Iraqi Shiite close to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki also said al-Baghdadi had been captured, but he spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to release the information.
Al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, has been identified in statements posted on Islamic extremist websites as the head of the Islamic State, which was proclaimed last year after the death of the leader of al-Qaida in Iraqi, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Al-Baghdadi was said to have headed the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an alliance of al-Qaida and other jihadist organisations, which was set up last year to downplay the role of foreigners in the Iraqi insurgency.