RED ON RED: AQ in Iraq Mastermind Reported Dead (Now w/ wet blanket update)

Fox is reporting that Zarqawi’s successor as leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Egyptian born Abu Ayyub al-Masri, has been killed “near a bridge in Northern Baghdad”, apparently bumped off by his own Al Qaeda crew.

US sources can’t confirm his death for certain yet, so we will update this post as soon as we know more. Obviously, if true, this is huge news and cause for great celebration. There have been some major arrests and deaths in the war on terror this week, but al-Masri would nonetheless be the biggest fish in a long time.

MORE: This looks promising:

“Primary information indicates he was killed, but when you have such a senior figure like Masri you have to do further checks, including a DNA test,” Dabbagh [Maliki’s spokesman] told Dubai-based al-Arabiya satellite channel in a telephone interview.

There’s debate on some of the wire reports as to whether the Iraqi government has his body or not, but if they’re talking DNA then they just might.

RED ON RED NOT SO BLACK AND WHITE? PJM’s Richard Miniter thinks Al-Masri was likely killed by Iraqi terrorist hunter groups, not Al-Qaeda. Given the $5 million bounty the Coalition put on him, that sounds quite plausible to me.

BUT LET’S NOT GET DISTRACTED FROM THE REAL QUESTION: What did Alberto Gonzales know and when did he know it?

TELEGRAPH says there was friction between al-Masri and “other Suni insurgent groups” over AQI’s indiscriminate murder of civilians.

12:50 PDT: Not a lot of movement on this story since this morning; it’s still not certain whether anyone has the body, but Al-Qaeda in Iraq says he’s still alive. So here’s a nice Allahpundit-style wet-blanket link pointing out all that bad news and more: AQinI is now so decentralized that decapitation strikes like this aren’t going to slow them down much even when they do work.

Until we hear more either way, I’m going to drop this post down below the next one, because Lorrie Morgan is just a bit easier on the eyes.