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.
U.S. officials believe Hasan Guhl arrived in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein and acknowledge there still appears to be no direct terrorist link between al-Qaida and Saddam.