US raid kills Iraqi blamed in 2004 reservist death

BAGHDAD (AP) -- An al-Qaida in Iraq leader blamed in the 2004 abduction and murder of an Army reservist and other deadly attacks over several years was killed in an American raid in Baghdad, the U.S. military said Thursday.

U.S. forces acting on a tip carried out the raid Nov. 11 in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood, killing Hajji Hammadi and another armed insurgent, the military statement.

The Iraqi was accused in the abduction and killing of Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin, a 20-year-old private first class who was seized when his fuel convoy was attacked by insurgents in Iraq on April 19, 2004, as the insurgency was gaining strength. Al-Jazeera aired a videotape later that month showing the Batavia, Ohio, native wearing camouflage and a floppy desert hat, sitting on a floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles.

Maupin's remains were found in March on the outskirts of Baghdad, about 12 miles from where the convoy was ambushed.

The military statement said Hammadi, also known as Hammadi Awdah Abd Farhan and Abd-al-Salam Ahmad Abdallah al-Janabi, led a group of fighters against U.S. forces in the second battle of Fallujah in the fall of 2004.

Hammadi also was the mastermind of a June 26 suicide bombing against a meeting of pro-government Sunni sheiks in Karmah, west of Baghdad, the military said. The attacker was dressed as an Iraqi policeman and killed three U.S. Marines, two interpreters and more than 20 Iraqis.

"Hammadi escorted the suicide bomber to the location and videotaped the attack," the military said.

Five other suspected insurgents were detained in the raid that killed Hammadi, it added. The military said it was announcing the death after Hammadi was positively identified.

It was the latest in a series of high-profile killings as the U.S. military targets the al-Qaida in Iraq leadership to shore up recent security gains.

It said the insurgent leader became al-Qaida's emir in a volatile area west of Baghdad in 2004 and had links to slain al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his successor Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.

He also was linked to the assassinations of many U.S.-allied Sunni leaders who turned against al-Qaida in Iraq, one of the key factors in a sharp drop in violence over the past year.

"The removal of Hajji Hammadi from the AQI (al-Qaida in Iraq) network is yet another significant blow to the terrorist organization," Brig. Gen. David Perkins said.


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