View Full Version : Iraqi terrorist exposed as a sham

07-20-07, 06:35 AM
Iraqi terrorist exposed as a sham
By Thomas Frank - USA Today
Posted : Friday Jul 20, 2007 5:27:50 EDT

BAGHDAD — Over the past year, Iraqis heard several audio recordings by a mysterious terrorist leader named Omar al-Baghdadi singing the praises of al-Qaida and urging his followers to attack U.S. troops.

The whole thing was a sham, the U.S. military said Wednesday. Al-Baghdadi was actually a fictional character dreamed up by al-Qaida to bolster its local credibility because the group is largely run by non-Iraqis. The voice heard in the recordings belonged to an Iraqi actor, the military said.

The character was “a creation of al-Qaida in Iraq leadership to help put an Iraqi face on ... their efforts here,” Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner told reporters.

The revelation occurred July 4 in Mosul after the capture of the top al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. He confessed that al-Baghdadi was a “myth” concocted by the group’s Egyptian-born leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Al-Mashhadani also told interrogators that Osama bin Laden’s inner circle still wields considerable influence over al-Qaida in Iraq.

The leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq was largely born elsewhere in the Middle East, although many rank-and-file members are Iraqis.

Al-Qaida created a terrorist umbrella group called the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006 and invented al-Baghdadi to lead it in an effort to “market itself” to Iraqis, Bergner said.

The invented character’s last name means “of Baghdad,” while the name Omar strongly suggests Sunni origin — the sect from which al-Qaida derives most of its support. The voice attributed to al-Baghdadi in recordings posted on the Internet belongs to a local actor named Abu Abdullah al-Naima, Bergner said.

Al-Qaida has recently suffered a decline in public support in Anbar province and some other areas. President Bush still calls the group the main threat to Iraq’s security.

Baghdad resident Ali al-Lami said the al-Baghdadi scam “would be a big insult to some Sunnis who still believe in al-Qaida, because al-Qaida deceived them.”