El Masri Dead? (not yet)

almasri.bmpThis morning we have conflicting reports that Al Masri (“the Egyptian”) who is Al Qaida’s successor to Al Zarqawi in Iraq was killed by US forces.  From Reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The U.S. military on Thursday denied reports it had killed the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

“There was a raid where we thought he may have been among those killed. We are still doing DNA tests but we do not believe coalition forces have killed al-Masri,” U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson told Reuters.

Earlier, an Iraqi government source, who did not want to be named, said Masri and three of his aides were killed in the western Iraqi town of Haditha on Wednesday after U.S. forces launched an airstrike and ground assault on a safe house.

Masri’s predecessor, Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in June

Al Masri specializes in car bombs, and this would be a large victory against Al Qaida since bombings are behind much of the sectarian fighting of late. Car bombing incidents have risen dramatically since Al Masri took over, and they have concentrated in Baghdad.

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