Al Qaeda’s Iraq chief now in Afghanistan: Report

July 31st, 2008 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 31 (DPA) The top leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq has left the country for Afghanistan, the Washington Post reported Thursday. Citing named sources in both the militant group and the Iraqi military, the report said an Egyptian known by the aliases Abu Hamza al-Muhajer or Abu Ayyub al-Masri had departed Iraq and was now in Afghanistan, having transited through Iran.

The group’s local leader in Fallujah, Abdullah al-Ansari, told the daily that it was “not known yet” if his departure was permanent.

Other members of Al Qaeda in Iraq, who were interviewed and named by the Post, denied that he had fled Iraq but confirmed the chief’s travels to Afghanistan for meetings, possibly even with Osama bin Laden.

US military and intelligence officials widely believe bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan’s border regions with Afghanistan.

The newspaper also cited an Iraqi intelligence officer in Anbar province, Colonel Hatim Abdullah, as saying based on interrogations of suspected members of Al Qaeda that al-Masri had left the country in June.

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