BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi security forces have captured a senior aide of al Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Baghdad, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Monday.
Defense Ministry spokesman Kassim al-Mosawi said that Kassim al-Ani, one of the most wanted people in Iraq, was arrested on Sunday evening.
“The Iraqi army forces arrested three terrorists who belong to al Qaeda, one of them is a senior aide of Zarqawi in Baghdad,” Mosawi said.
“He was one of the most wanted ones,” he told Reuters, adding that Ani was suspected of being behind many attacks in the Iraqi capital.
Zarqawi and al Qaeda have been blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Iraq since 2003, often going after Shi’ite Muslim targets in what U.S. officials say is an attempt to provoke civil war with Iraq’s once-dominant Sunni Arab minority.
Iraqi security forces and the U.S. military often say they have detained or killed key al Qaeda militants.
But Zarqawi himself remains at large, despite a $25 million bounty on his head.
Mosawi said the army had received intelligence information that Ani and the two other suspects were in a house in Baghdad’s northern Adhamiya district, a predominantly Sunni area.
“We prepared a plan and raided the house and arrested them without resistance,” he said.
The U.S. military was not immediately available for comment on the arrests.