updated 10/1/2007 7:23:17 PM ET 2007-10-01T23:23:17

An umbrella group for al-Qaida in Iraq has confirmed the death of a senior leader, a Tunisian linked to the kidnapping and killings of U.S. soldiers last year, according to a statement posted Monday.

Abu Osama al-Tunisi was killed in a U.S. airstrike south of Baghdad, the U.S. Central Command reported last week.

On Monday, the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group, called al-Tunisi a martyr. It praised him for performing jihad, or holy war, "with his tongue and teeth" and credited him with participating in the battles of Fallujah, storming the Abu Ghraib prison and creating a "triangle of death" south of Baghdad.

The authenticity of the statement, posted on a militant Web site, could not be independently verified by The Associated Press.

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