updated 10/10/2006 3:27:52 PM ET 2006-10-10T19:27:52

DNA tests have confirmed that a man shot to death by British forces was a leading al-Qaida militant who embarrassed the U.S. military by making an unprecedented escape from a maximum-security military prison in Afghanistan, the U.S. command said Tuesday.

Omar al-Farouq was shot and killed Sept. 25 after he opened fire on British forces during a raid on his home in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.

British forces had said at the time that they had hoped to capture the suspect, but had returned fire on him when he started shooting at them.

“After taking photographs and gathering DNA evidence from the individual, ground forces left the suspected terrorist remains at the site,” the U.S. military said. “It was later determined through DNA gathered the individual killed was Omar al-Farouq.”

Al-Farouq, who allegedly led al-Qaida’s Southeast Asia operations, had slipped into Iraq three months earlier, according to police. It was not known why al-Farouq fled to Iraq, but officials have said he was born in Kuwait to Iraqi parents and may have had roots in the area.

He and three other al-Qaida suspects escaped from Bagram, in central Afghanistan, in July 2005, picking locks and navigating a minefield, then evading a massive manhunt.

The escaped prisoners later appeared in a video sent to the Dubai-based television station Al-Arabiya and boasted of their feat.

The Pentagon waited until November to confirm his escape and the delay upset Indonesia, which had arrested al-Farouq in 2002 and turned him over to the United States.

Al-Farouq has been linked to thwarted plots on U.S. embassies in Southeast Asia, and is alleged to have been a key link between al-Qaida and regional terrorists.

On hearing the initial reports of his death, his Indonesia wife said she almost fainted, but then wondered if the news was true. “I still have faith he is still alive,” Mira Agustina told el-Shinta radio at the time.

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