Video: Al-Qaida behind Iraq attacks?

Image: Jim Miklasszewski
By Jim Miklaszewski Chief Pentagon correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/23/2004 7:22:37 PM ET 2004-01-24T00:22:37

Two more Iraqi civilians killed today in a bombing of the Communist Party headquarters in Baghdad.  An Iraqi said: “This is a terrorist operation from terrorist people.”

U.S. officials claim they now have living proof that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network may be behind some of the terrorist attacks in Iraq. The officials tell NBC News U.S. special forces captured a top al-Qaida leader during a raid in Iraq on Thursday.

He’s Hasan Guhl — in the top 20 of al-Qaida leaders.  Called “The Gatekeeper,” he’s responsible for providing money, transportation and safe havens for al-Qaida terrorists. 

Intelligence sources say Guhl was sent to Iraq by bin Laden or his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.  U.S. officials call Guhl’s capture huge because he could provide critical intelligence on what al-Qaida plans in Iraq.

According to terrorism expert Neil Livingstone, “If Hasan Guhl talks to his interrogators, he’s probably going to have a good idea of how many foreign fighters are in Iraq today, how much money and outside support is coming in.”

In a separate raid last week, U.S. special forces netted another big catch.  He’s Husam al Yemeni, also known as “Firas” — No. 2 in the terrorist group Ansar al Islam and suspected of planning and executing terrorist attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq.

He’s the deputy to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of Ansar al Islam, who has direct links to al-Qaida.

In another potential blow, Iranian officials said Friday  they’re prepared to put about a dozen al-Qaida operatives on trial in their country.  That could include Said al-Adel, al-Qaida’s top military commander and bin Laden’s son, Saad, both said to be under Iranian control.

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