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U.S. Arrests Alleged Top Zarqawi Aide

June 17, 2005|From Reuters

BAGHDAD — U.S. forces have detained a senior associate of Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, an American general said Thursday, calling the arrest a major blow to the insurgency in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Mohammed Khalif Shaiker, also known as Abu Talha, was captured Tuesday in a quiet neighborhood of Iraq's third-largest city, a U.S. military spokesman said. He gave few details about the arrest.

"This is a major defeat for the Al Qaeda organization in Iraq," Brig. Gen. Donald Alston told a news conference, referring to the Zarqawi group's recent alliance with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. "He gave up without a fight despite having been quoted as saying he would never surrender."

Alston said tips from local people and months of constant pressure had led to Shaiker's capture.

U.S. and Iraqi security forces have announced the arrest of several senior associates of Zarqawi in recent weeks.

Zarqawi's group is one of the most feared militant organizations in the country, claiming responsibility for several of the deadliest bombings and a number of abduction-slayings in the past 18 months.

In December, U.S. forces in Mosul announced the capture of one of Shaiker's alleged deputies, Abdul Aziz Sadun Ahmed Hamduni, also known as Abu Ahmed, and the next day seized another one.

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