U.S. captures 2 senior Al Qaida members in Iraq

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Allied forces have captured two senior Al Qaida operatives in Iraq.

U.S. officials said the capture could help the United States understand the extent of Al Qaida's network, particularly in Iraq.

The officials said one Al Qaida operative was captured near the Iranian border by allied Kurdish forces. The other was nabbed by U.S. Special Operations troops.

Both operatives were identified as senior members of Al Qaida or its satellite organization, Middle East Newsline reported.

Hasan Guhl was captured on Thursday during what officials said was a visit to Iraq. Guhl was identified as a senior Al Qaida operative based in Pakistan and a colleague of former operations chief Khaled Sheik Mohammed. Guhl was said to have conducted a mission to help organize new cells in Iraq.

"He's a longtime facilitator of Al Qaida operations in terms of moving both people and money," a U.S. official told a briefing on Friday.

Officials said U.S. troops also captured Hussan Al Yemeni in the Sunni-populated city of Faluja on Jan. 15. Al Yemeni was identified as a leading operative of the Al Qaida-satellite group Ansar Al Islam.

Al Yemeni was said to have been the No. 2 member of Ansar. Only Ansar leader Abu Musib Al Zarqawi was said to have been more senior.

Officials said Ansar has established cells in the Baghdad area and helped organize suicide operations against U.S. interests.

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