Just across on Fox, quoting the AP. Iraqi troops say they caught him north of Baghdad; Fox is waiting for confirmation from Washington. Looks like it’s real for this time. Let’s hope so, as I’m getting tired of writing these posts.

Cross your fingers and standby.

Update: Damn it — the report’s coming from Iraqi state television, which blew the story about the Ramadi soccer field bombing.

Iraqiya did not say whether U.S. or Iraqi troops had arrested Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq, a body set up by al Qaeda’s Iraq wing and other Sunni militant groups in October.

It said he was captured in the Abu Ghraib area, which is on the western outskirts of Baghdad.

Still no U.S. confirmation yet.

Update: Iraqi MOI may have figured out his secret identity only very recently. His name, allegedly? Khalid al-Mashhadani. Why’s that significant? Because according to Nibras Kazimi, Iraq’s Speaker of Parliament and Vice President are both members of the al-Mashhadani tribe. Have they known all along? And what happens if it turns out they have?

Update: True or not, we’re continuing to roll up other Sunni jihadis. This morning we got “the Butcher,” whoever the hell he is, and an Al Qaeda “media emir” a.k.a. courier north of Mosul. It’d be sweet if one of them ratted Baghdadi out.

Update: Meanwhile in Baghdad, the U.S. is demonstrating its resolve by building a spacious base inside Sadr City. And Maliki is following Petraeus’s lead in symbolically taking back the city by heading out for a stroll.

maliki.jpg

Update: Texas Rainmaker e-mails and points at the lede in the AP’s article: “The leader of the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq was captured Friday in a raid west of Baghdad — his identity revealed by a fellow insurgent detained with him, an Iraqi military spokesman said.” Slogger points to another AP article claiming that a “prominent Iraqi Shiite” who’s close to Maliki has confirmed the capture.

Update: Stratfor says this may be a big propaganda score but operationally it’s not that big a deal. Which makes sense: everyone knows that if you want to break a network, the guys to get are the couriers.