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Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 11:44 UK

Iraq al-Qaeda chief not captured

US military photo allegedly showing Abu Ayyub al-Masri/Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (June 2006)
Masri is believed to have formed al-Qaeda's first cell in Baghdad

The United States military in Iraq says a man detained in the northern city of Mosul is not in fact the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

An earlier statement from the Iraqi defence ministry said that al-Masri had been captured.

But an American military spokeswoman, Peggy Kageleiry, said Abu Ayyub al-Masri had not been arrested.

She said confusion had arisen because a man with a similar name to the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader had been detained.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been blamed for or has claimed responsibility for some of the bloodiest insurgent attacks in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Members of al-Qaeda are believed to have regrouped in the northern city since the beginning of the US troops "surge" last year.

Al-Masri is believed to have helped Abu Musab al-Zarqawi form the first al-Qaeda cell in Baghdad. Zarqawi was killed in June 2006.

In April 2007, he was named "minister of war" in the 10-man cabinet of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organisation of Sunni militant groups.



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