Big Fish: Senior Qaeda thug killed in Iraq

Worst job in Iraq: Being “second in command in al Qaeda.” Second worst job in Iraq: Being first in command in al Qaeda. Right after that, being a “senior figure in al Qaeda”. All of these jobs can be bad for your health.

U.S.-led forces conducting a crackdown on al-Qaida in Iraq killed a senior member of an insurgent group who was responsible for the high-profile kidnappings of several Westerners, a military spokesman said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the killing of Muharib Abdul-Latif al-Jubouri, described as al-Qaida’s information minister, had apparently led to confused reports that its top leader or the head of an umbrella group of insurgents had been killed.

Caldwell said the U.S. does not have the bodies of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq, or Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, and doesn’t know of “anybody that does.”

He said the military had conducted numerous operations against al-Qaida in Iraq in the last six days.

Al-Jubouri was killed while trying to resist detention in an operation about four miles west of the Taji air base north of Baghdad early Tuesday, and the body was initially identified by photos, then confirmed by DNA testing Wednesday, he said.

Al-Jubouri was believed to have been deeply involved with the kidnapping of Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll, who was released, and Tom Fox, one of four men from the Chicago-based peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams who was found fatally shot in Baghdad on March 10, 2006, he said. He was also involved in the kidnapping of two Germans in January 2006, Caldwell said.

Iraqi sites are reporting that Omar al-Baghdadi is also dead, but MNF-I hasn’t confirmed that. Likewise, there’s no confirmation yet as to the fate of Omar al-Masri, who was reported to have been killed a couple days ago.