Saturday, April 25, 2009

Is this mass murderer now in custody?

On a day when at least 75 Iraqis were murdered in suicide bombings in Baghdad and at a Shia shrine in Diyala, the Iraqi security forces announced the arrest of the mastermind of the bombings, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, a leader of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq.

Great news, if true:
The Islamic State of Iraq is an umbrella group of militant Sunni factions which is said to be dominated by Baghdadi's al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is affiliated to "core" al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

His arrest, which could not be confirmed, and even his death have been reported before. Security experts have speculated in the past that Baghdadi was a character invented by some extremist groups rather than a real person.

Let's cross our fingers and hope that this mass murderer is now out of commission. The early indications, though, aren't bright: Suicide bombers killed 60 people in an attack at a Shia Muslim shrine in Baghdad, the deadliest single terrorist strike in Iraq in almost a year.
The bombing brought the toll from suicide attacks in the country to almost 150 deaths in just 24 hours.

Two terrorists wearing vests packed with explosives approached separate entrances to the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine in the Shia district of Kadhimiya. One blew himself up at the gates, while the second entered a courtyard before detonating his explosives.

Police said that at least 20 of those killed at the shrine - a frequent target of Sunni Muslim insurgents - were Iranian pilgrims.

A further 125 people were reported to have been injured in the attack.

It was the bloodiest terrorist operation in Iraq since 63 people died in a truck bombing in Baghdad on June 17 last year.

The shrine attack came a day after 89 people were killed in two suicide bombings, which targeted police and civilians in a square in central Baghdad and Shia pilgrims from Iran at a restaurant in Diyala province, north of the capital.

They followed the arrest on Thursday of a man who police in Baghdad claimed was the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

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