NBC News and news services
updated 12/12/2005 8:16:33 AM ET 2005-12-12T13:16:33

The American military Friday arrested a high-ranking member of al-Qaida in Iraq in the town of Ramadi, the U.S. Marines said.

Amir Khalaf Fanus, also known in the Ramadi area as “the Butcher,” was wanted for criminal activities including murder and kidnapping, Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool said in a statement from the town, located 70 miles west of Baghdad.

Fanus was No. 3 on a most-wanted list for Ramadi drawn up by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division.

Officials said Iraqis turned Fanus into authorities.

“He is the highest ranking al-Qaida in Iraq member to be turned into Iraqi and U.S. officials by local citizens,” Pool said. “His capture is another indication that the local citizens tire of the insurgents’ presence within their community.”

Lt. Gen. James Conway, the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he believes Fanus was “instrumental in a number of killings, both American and Iraqi.”

Conway confirmed Iraqi citizens turned Fanus in and called the incident a “very good symbol” and “indicative of what we are seeing.”

According to Pool, Iraqi and U.S. forces “have witnessed increasing signs of citizens fighting the terrorists within Ramadi as the Dec. 15 national elections draw nearer.”

He said that another 1,200 Iraqi Security Force soldiers were recently stationed in Ramadi, while 1,100 Iraqi special police commandos and a mechanized Iraqi army company had moved into the city.

Iraqi Security Forces in Ramadi will be assuming more security responsibilities from the U.S. forces, a new release issued on Tuesday said. Like other locations throughout Iraq, as security improves, Iraqi police will also be gradually introduced in the city, it said.

NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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