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Suspected Al Qaeda Appointee Is Revealed

November 24, 2002|From Associated Press

BERLIN — German officials believe the Al Qaeda terror network has appointed a Jordanian man as a combat commander to orchestrate attacks on Europe, according to a news report Saturday.

Abu Musab Zarqawi is in charge of bringing jihad, or holy war, to Western Europe, Hans-Josef Beth, the head of the intelligence section of Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, was quoted as saying in Der Spiegel newsweekly.

Zarqawi is believed to be among the top two dozen leaders of the terrorist organization.

"He is the man to take note of if it concerns Germany and Europe," Beth told the magazine.

The magazine reported that U.S. authorities believe there are six "combat commanders" in total, but it did not cite sources.

Spiegel said Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, recently taken into U.S. custody, was one of the six, in charge of Al Qaeda's Persian Gulf operations, but it did not identify any others.

Claudia Nitz, spokeswoman for the Federal Intelligence Service, which is Germany's equivalent of the CIA, said the agency would not comment on the report.

U.S. officials have said Zarqawi was in Afghanistan when the United States began bombing Taliban and Al Qaeda targets last year. During the military action, he reportedly fled to Iran, then to Baghdad for medical treatment, and then on to Syria.

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