Qaeda `postman` dispatched Iraq chiefs to deaths: Probe
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 29, 2010, 17:34
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 agency.

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 Baghdadi's messenger.

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

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