US: Al-Masri is new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq

The US military said the man claiming to be the new al-Qaida in Iraq leader is Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian with ties to al-Qaida's No. 2 leader. Maj.-Gen. William Caldwell, a US military spokesman in Baghdad, said al-Masri apparently is the same person as a man identified by the nom de guerre Abu Hamza al-Muhajer who has claimed to have succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and vowed to avenge him in threatening Web statements in recent days. The Afghanistan-trained Al-Masri, an explosives expert, was a key figure in the al-Qaida in Iraq network and was long responsible for facilitating the movement of foreign fighters from Syria into Baghdad, Caldwell said at a news conference.