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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 10:57 GMT
US rejects Masri wounding claim
Abu Ayyub al-Masri
Masri is believed to have received training in Afghanistan
Senior US military sources in Iraq have told the BBC they do not believe reports that the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq has been injured in fighting.

Arab TV stations said early on Friday that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, had been hurt during clashes north of Baghdad.

The reports said that the incident had occurred in Balad.

Masri took over as the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq after the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a 2006 US air raid.

ABU AYYUB AL-MASRI
Originally from Egypt
Known as Muhajir - which means 'immigrant' in Arabic
Trained in Afghanistan
Helped Zarqawi set up first al-Qaeda cell in Iraq
Named as al-Qaeda in Iraq leader in June 2006

Little is known about Masri - the US military has said it believes him to be an Egyptian militant based in Baghdad.

He is understood to have trained in Afghanistan and helped Zarqawi form the first al-Qaeda cell in the Iraqi capital.

A statement posted on a website used by Islamic militants in June 2006 announced that he would take over as the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq after Zarqawi was killed in a US air strike.

The statement said he had a history of fighting a holy war and that he had been unanimously elected as the group's new chief.

There is currently a $5m US bounty on Masri's head.




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