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thedrifter
07-25-07, 09:06 AM
Al-Qaida affiliate in Iraq denies in Web posting that U.S. troops captured its top Iraqi

By: MAAMOUN YOUSSEF - Associated Press

CAIRO, Egypt -- An al-Qaida umbrella group in Iraq on Tuesday denied reports that U.S. troops had captured the highest-ranking Iraqi in their leadership.

Last week, the U.S. command announced the arrest of Khaled al-Mashhadani, describing him as someone who had served as the link between al-Qaida's command in Iraq and Osama bin Laden's inner circle.

Al-Mashhadani, also known as Abu Shahid, was captured July 4 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the U.S. military said. He is allegedly a close associate of Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born head of al-Qaida in Iraq.


In a statement posted Tuesday on an Islamic Web site commonly used by insurgents, the Islamic State of Iraq said the arrest report was a "new lie" by U.S. troops.

"Once and again, the crusader occupying army comes out with a new lie about killing or arresting a number of mujahedeen leaders or soldiers in a desperate attempt to cover up the failure of the crusader's campaign against the Muslims' land," the statement said.

However, it gave no indication of al-Mashhadani's current whereabouts nor did it provide any proof that the Iraqi militant was not in captivity.

The U.S. military had also said following his arrest, al-Mashhadani told his interrogators that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq -- identified as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi -- was a "fictional role" and that an actor is used for audio recordings of speeches posted on the Web.

"These reports are absolute lies and have no truth," the militant statement said.

The Islamic State of Iraq is considered an umbrella that includes al-Qaida in Iraq.

Al-Qaida in Iraq was proclaimed in 2004 by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who led a group called Tawhid and Jihad, responsible for the beheading of several foreign hostages.

Al-Zarqawi posted Web statements declaring his allegiance to bin Laden and began using the name of al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Diyala province in June 2006 and was replaced by al-Masri.

Ellie