Good that he was shot- and how:
Abu Ayyub al-Masri
Update: Is he dead or is he not? Link to Jihad Watch here
With thanks to Andrew Bolt
What is hopeful is not just the alleged killing of al Qaida’s leader in Iraq, but the manner of his death:
The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was killed on Tuesday in a fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, the Interior Ministry spokesman said, but the U.S. military said it could not confirm the report.
There has been growing friction between Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups over al Qaeda’s indiscriminate killing of civilians and its imposition of an austere brand of Islam in the areas where it holds sway.
The death is not confirmed, But what is true is that insurgent Sunni sheiks are now turning on al Qaida, which means more hope of a negotiated peace in Iraq.
And among other good news:
US forces also killed an al-Qa’ida kingpin who had sent 12-year-old Iraqi boys to their deaths as suicide car bombers. The US command claimed Muhammad Abdullah Abbas al-Issawi, the al-Qa’ida “security emir” in eastern Anbar province in Iraq and a former Zarqawi associate, was killed on April 20.
Here is another link from the Australian
Split in al-Qa’ida behind Masri hit
U.S. soldiers take up positions on the roof top of a house in reaction to sniper fire that hit their vehicles while on patrol in Mosul, northwest of Baghdad, April 29, 2007. (Stringer/Reuters)
In other news from Iraq: Reuters
Suicide bomber kills 20 at Iraq funeral
Sunni/Shia jihad update:
By Dean YatesMon Apr 30,
A suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives killed more than 20 people when he blew himself up among mourners at a Shi’ite funeral north of Baghdad on Monday, Iraqi police said.
The attack took place inside a crowded mourning tent in the town of Khalis in volatile Diyala province, police said.
More than 35 people had been wounded, police said, adding they expected the death toll to rise.
Since U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a security crackdown in Baghdad in February, militants including al Qaeda have increasingly shifted the focus of their attacks outside the capital.
Diyala, a religiously mixed area, has been the scene of fierce fighting between U.S. troops and al Qaeda as well as Sunni Arab insurgents.
Five U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq over the weekend, raising the number of American troops killed this month to over 100 and making April one of the deadliest of the war for U.S. forces.
The toll could increase the pressure on U.S. President George W. Bush, who is fighting a plan by Democrats to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.
Bush has vowed to veto a war spending bill from Democrats that requires combat troops to begin withdrawing by Oct 1. The Democrat-controlled Congress plans to send the bill to Bush on Tuesday.
The U.S. military said three soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad on Sunday. A Marine was killed in western Anbar province on Sunday.
Another soldier was killed by small arms fire in eastern Baghdad on Saturday, the military said.
The security crackdown in Baghdad is seen as a final attempt to halt Iraq’s plunge into all-out civil war between majority Shi’ites and once-dominant minority Sunni Arabs.
U.S. commanders acknowledge that the offensive, which has led to the deployment of thousands of extra troops on the streets, has increased the risk of military casualties.
Before the announcement of the latest deaths, the independent icasualties.org Web site had put the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq in April at 99. Around half have been killed in and around Baghdad.
Some 3,350 U.S. troops and many tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
April has also been a bad month for British forces.
Twelve have been killed in April, the highest number of casualties in a single month since March 2003, when 27 were killed in the opening days of the war.
British Defense Secretary Des Browne made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Monday and met his Iraqi counterpart, the British embassy said.
(Additional reporting by Ibon Villelabeitia, Mussab Al-Khairalla, Waleed Ibrahim, Aseel Kami)
The Return of the Body Snatchers
New business Opportunities in Iraq:
Iraqi bomb victims’ bodies held for ransom
By Aqeel Hussein in Baghdad and Colin Freeman, Sunday Telegraph
Criminals in Baghdad are stealing corpses from the scenes of car bombings and murders in order to extract “ransoms” from grieving relatives.
In a macabre off-shoot of the capital’s kidnapping epidemic, the gangs pose as medics collecting bodies to be taken back to the city’s overflowing morgues.
Instead, though, they take the corpses to secret hiding places and then demand payments of up to Â£2,500 a time to release them to relatives for burial. Because Muslim custom dictates that a body must be buried as soon as possible after death, many families simply pay up, rather than involve the police.
The new racket in “dead hostage taking” is thought to be run by gangs connected to the city’s sectarian militias, many of whom are already involved in conventional kidnappings.
Iraqi police said the gangs often responded to car bombings, which can leave more than 100 corpses on the streets. In the chaos, police and army units seldom questioned the credentials of people posing as ambulance crews.
Captain Falah Saab al Mamouri, of Iraq’s Ministry of Interior, described how one such gang – since apprehended – operated. “They would look for bodies that had identity cards on them and then get in touch with the family.
“They would then ring the family of the dead person, tell them that their relative has been killed, and then demand between $3,000 and $5,000 to return the body.
“Once the family had handed the money over to a middle man, they would dump the corpse near the city morgue with the name written on a piece of paper which was pinned on the chest. Sooner or later someone would hand it over to the morgue, and the family would find it there.”