Al-Qaeda in Iraq second-in-command reported killed during US raid

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

United States military forces reported that the alleged second-in-command of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), Abu Qaswarah also known as Abu Sara, had killed himself after a raid on a building in Mosul, Iraq.

He had used an explosives vest to kill himself after moving upstairs and into a room occupied by four fighters, three women, and three children. They were all killed in the firefight and the resulting explosion of the incident, which a military spokesman called a "crazy scene".

US officials had reported the deaths earlier but had not confirmed Qaswarah's identity.

Qaswarah, a Moroccan native and Swedish citizen, was a 'charismatic' leader who had been a major rallying force and a 'key figure' in al-Qaeda. After becoming an al-Qaeda chief of northern Iraq last year, he began using his control of Northern Iraq to smuggle foreigners for use in suicide bombings and to recruit more forces.

A military statement reported that Qaswarah's death would "degrade AQI operations" and leave the group "without a leader to oversee and coordinate its operations in the region". Brigadier General David Perkins agreed, saying the death of Qaswarah "allows the Iraqi security forces with the support of the coalition to go in and continue to tear apart that network".