Second in command of al-Qaeda in Iraq in custody

Sunday, September 3, 2006

United States and Iraqi forces have captured the al-Qaeda in Iraq's second in command, Hamad Jama al-Saedi. He is also known as Al-Suaidi, Abu Rana and Abu Humam. Officials say that the arrest "dealt a severe blow" to al-Qaeda in Iraq. According to officials, Saedi masterminded the al-Askari shrine bombing which occurred in February.

"We announce today the arrest of the most important al-Qaeda leader after the criminal Abu Ayyub al-Masri [the current leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq]. He's the second man in the organisation. He wanted to use children and women as human shields as our forces attempted to capture him. We continued to track him down [in the Salaheddin province] and then he moved to north of Baquba in mid-June," said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the National Security Adviser of Iraq.

"This is a very important development. It comes in the wake of [the] killing of Zarqawi and also a number of Zarqawi associates. Deliberate intelligence work both by Iraqi forces and as well as multinational forces have dealt a very severe blow to al Qaeda organization in Iraq," said Barham Salih, the Planning Minister for Iraq.

The arrest was made north of Baquba when forces found Rana hiding inside a building. According to Rubaie, the building was currently in use by some families. No injuries were reported during the arrest.

Forces found information on the location of Saedi when a U.S. airstrike in June killed former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.