Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 95 E300
Location: Inside my head
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Another fallen freedom fighter?
Tribes claim leader of al Qaeda in Iraq killed
POSTED: 8:01 a.m. EDT, May 1, 2007
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Unconfirmed reports that al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri has been killed come from local tribes and not Iraq's intelligence services or military, an Iraqi government spokesman said Tuesday.
Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said the government won't be able to confirm al-Masri's death until it makes an identification of the body.
"Iraqi security forces do not have the body," al-Dabbagh said on Iraqi state TV. "Iraqi security forces and Multi-National Forces are trying to retrieve the body for visual identification and DNA tests."
The reports of al-Masri's death emerged after a confrontation Tuesday between Sunni tribes and al Qaeda in Iraq at a bridge in an area under Sunni tribal control, Dabbagh said.
Earlier Tuesday, an Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman said "very strong intelligence" indicated al-Masri was killed in fighting between rival militant groups north of Baghdad.
"We received intelligence reports of al-Masri getting killed in clashes between al Qaeda in Iraq and other militant groups at dawn today" in al-Niba'ie in Taji, north of Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf said.
The U.S. military and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had no information on the reports.
"I have no confirmation of what is being reported in the Iraqi media," said military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver.
In February, Iraq's Interior Ministry claimed Iraqi security forces wounded al-Masri in another clash north of Baghdad, but the U.S. military cast doubt on that report. The ministry never backed away from its claim.
Al-Masri -- also known as Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajer -- succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq after he was killed in a U.S. airstrike in June.
Recently, the insurgent umbrella group Islamic State of Iraq posted a list of Cabinet members and named al-Masri as its "war minister."
The group, which includes al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents, claimed responsibility for a number of violent acts last month -- a suicide attack at the Iraqi parliament, the killings of nine U.S. soldiers in Diyala province and the execution of 20 security force officers.
On Saturday, the group distributed leaflets in Samarra to police, warning that they have three days to "repent" or be killed.
The insurgent group also told police to use loudspeakers at mosques and marketplaces to announce their rejection of the "apostate state" and their joining of the "Islamic State."