Baghdad: An Al-Qaeda messenger
unwittingly dispatched two top Islamist commanders to their
deaths this month, when a US-backed force tracked him to their
den and killed them, investigators said on Thursday.
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri, who had
direct links with Osama bin Laden, were killed in a shootout
when a joint Iraqi-US force raided their safehouse north of
Baghdad on April 18.
Baghdadi was the political leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq
(AQI) while Masri, an Egyptian militant, was the insurgent
group's self-styled "minister of war."
The pair, according to investigators, did not use cell
phones or the Internet but relied on their own postman who
relayed messages between them and other insurgents.
Once a week the man, whose identity was not revealed,
sat in a Baghdad cafe where he discreetly made contact with
insurgents, delivering messages from Baghdadi and receiving
others for the top Al-Qaeda operative.
Iraqi officials learned of the messenger's existence
on March 11 when security forces captured Munaf Abdul Rahim
al-Rawi, the Al-Qaeda chief in the Iraqi capital who was known
as the "governor of Baghdad."
Officials say that Rawi, a low-level industry ministry
employee, planned the bombings of government ministries and
hotels in the capital that have killed hundreds and wounded
thousands of people since August last year.
"During his interrogation, Rawi admitted that he
received his orders from one of Baghdadi's messengers," an
officer who took part in the deadly raid against Al-Qaeda told
Rawi told investigators that "he met the messenger
once a week in a Baghdad cafe, where the man would sit for an
hour before leaving."
The information was immediately shared with US forces
who sent American drones into action to capture images and
identify the messenger and his contacts.
Rawi was confronted with the pictures taken by the
pilotless planes and confirmed that the man they showed was
On April 18, another drone hovered over Baghdad
tracking down the messenger's every move.
The drone followed the courier as he boarded a van
loaded with vegetables heading south for the Lake Tharthar
region where the Qaeda commanders were holed up, the officer
said. "At that point we gave the signal for the raid."
First Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010, 17:34