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Sunday, June 24, 2007

U.S. forces kill Anbar's Al Qaida commander

BAGHDAD The U.S. military said American combat units killed the chief of the Al Qaida network in the Iraqi province of Anbar. The Al Qaida commander was identified as Hussein Awad Al Hawawi, also known as Abu Thabet.

"The people of Iraq are beginning to reject Al Qaida and other extremists that continue to foment this violence," Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said. "They clearly understand that [Al Qaida in Iraq] is headed by a foreigner, an Egyptian who is linked to international terrorism, and are tired of the false promises, intimidation, brutality and repression that they offer."

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In a statement on June 22, the military said Al Hawawi was killed in a battle near Karma in the Anbar province, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said Al Hawawi had been hiding in an Al Qaida stronghold targeted in the operation.

Al Hawawi was said to have recruited suicide bombers from Arab countries for operations in Anbar and Baghdad. Officials said Al Hawawi formed a cell of at least 30 foreigners for suicide strikes.

In all, six Al Qaida operatives were killed in the U.S. raid, officials said. One operative survived the assault and was hospitalized.

Officials said Al Hawawi helped train and direct foreign volunteers who joined the Sunni insurgency from such North African states as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. They said Al Hawawi fled from a prison in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on March 6.

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