BAGHDAD ø The U.S. military has killed a key aide to
Ansar Al Islam leader Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, regarded as the most lethal
insurgent in Iraq.
U.S. officials said Abu Mohammed Hamza was killed in a clash with U.S.
troops in Habaniyah north of Baghdad on Thursday. Hamza, who was carrying a
Jordanian passport, was identified as the chief bombmaker for Al Zarqawi and
believed responsible for a series of suicide car bombings.
| Ansar Al Islam leader Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi (left) and slain aide, Abu Mohammed Hamza
Hamza, 31, was later identified as a Yemeni national who acquired a
forged Jordanian passport and even served in Jordan's military, Middle East Newsline reported. A family
member told the London-based Al Hayat daily on Wednesday that Hamza left
Jordan in 1999 for Syria and Turkey. Hamza then settled in Iraq, where he
joined Ansar and rose to become an aide to Al Zarqawi.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of coalition military
operations, said troops also found materials for the production of bombs,
electronic equipment and pictures of Al Zarqawi in Hamza's safehouse.
Kimmitt said Hamza, also known as Nidal Arabiyat Abu Hamza, was not an Ansar
"While assessed as a blow to the Zarqawi network, he and his group
remain a threat to the security and stability of Iraq," Kimmitt said on
Tuesday. "But as we've seen with Zarqawi and some of his associates, they
have an affiliation with different terrorist groups, but I don't think we
would consider Abu Mohammed Hamza a card-carrying member of Ansar Al Islam."
Officials said Al Zarqawi and his associates have tried to recruit a
range of Sunni insurgency organizations and former Fedayeen forces into an
anti-coalition network. They said Al Zarqawi does not have a large
infrastructure in Iraq.
In a related development, the U.S. military reported the capture of a
former Baath Party security chief believed to have financed insurgency
attacks in the Sunni Triangle. The military said Shahab Awas, the Saddam
loyalist who was captured in Baqouba has been an associate of Saddam's chief
aide Izzat Ibrahim Al Douri. Awas was said to have financed a cell composed
of members of the former Fedayeen Saddam militia in Baqouba.
Another Al Douri associate, Hamid Nouri, was also arrested. Nouri was
captured in Mosul without incident.
In Washington, the U.S. intelligence community has warned that Iraq
could become the next training ground for Islamic insurgency groups inspired
by Al Qaida. Defense Intelligence Agency director Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby
told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that the north and south
of Iraqi remain quiet while the central region has been the scene of most
The DIA director said Kurds in northern Iraq have created a
quasi-autonomous state. He said the Shi'ite population in southern Iraq
continued to support the U.S. coalition and battle former elements of the
"However, the situation could become volatile," Jacoby said. "Shia
backing for the coalition is based largely on expectations that a political
structure based on an elected representative government serves their
Jacoby said the number of insurgency attacks has declined since November
2003 as the Sunni population remains undecided over whether to support the
coalition or Saddam loyalists. But the intelligence chief said foreign
Muslim volunteers have emerged as a threat to Iraqi stability.
"Fighters from numerous countries are reported to have entered Iraq,"
Jacoby said. "They are motivated by Arab nationalism, extremist religious
ideology and/or resentment of U.S. policies and beliefs. Most are assessed
to be linked to groups that hope to gain notoriety and increased support by
attacks in Iraq."
In Washington, the Treasury Department has added an Al Qaida loyalist to
the U.S. list of people suspected of supporting activities deemed terrorist.
Yemeni national Abdul Majid Al Zindani was identified as one of Osama Bin
Laden's spiritual leaders as well as a recruiter and procurer of weapons.
Under the designation, the department will freeze any financial assets
belonging to Al Zindani found in the United States.