BAGHDAD — The U.S. command said Wednesday the highest-ranking Iraqi in the leadership of Al Qaeda in Iraq has been arrested, adding that information from him indicates the group's foreign-based leadership wields considerable influence over the Iraqi chapter.
Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, also known as Abu Shahid, was captured in Mosul on July 4, said Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a military spokesman.
"Al-Mashhadani is believed to be the most senior Iraqi in the Al Qaeda in Iraq network," Bergner said. He said al-Mashhadani was a close associate of Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born head of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Bergner said al-Mashhadani served as an intermediary between al-Masri and Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.
"In fact, communication between the senior Al Qaeda leadership and al-Masri frequently went through al-Mashhadani," Bergner said.
"Along with al-Masri, al-Mashhadani co-founded a virtual organization in cyberspace called the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006," Bergner said. "The Islamic State of Iraq is the latest efforts by Al Qaeda to market itself and its goal of imposing a Taliban-like state on the Iraqi people."