Al-Qaida denies in Iraq that leader was killed

An Iraqi insurgent umbrella group denied Tuesday that the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq was killed, saying he was alive and safe, according to an Internet statement. "The Islamic State of Iraq reassures the Ummah (nation) that Sheik Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, God protect him, is alive and he is still fighting the enemy of God," the Islamic State said in a written statement posted on a Web site commonly used by insurgents. Several reports on Tuesday said Abu Hamza al-Muhajer - who US and Iraqi forces have identified by another pseudonym, Abu Ayyub al-Masri - had been killed - either by rivals in al-Qaida or Sunni tribesmen who had turned against the extremists.