Al-Qaida confirms death of top operative in Iraq

The purported leader of al-Qaida's umbrella group in Iraq has confirmed the death of a top operative who the US military said was killed in an attack last month, according to a new audiotape. The US military had said it captured or killed 40 al-Qaida fighters last month, including a Syrian who died in a Nov. 17 raid on a reported propaganda house. The Syrian, identified as Abu Maysara, had escaped from an Iraqi prison in March. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, praised Maysara as "a well experienced mujahid (holy warrior) and propagandist." In the 46-minute long audio tape posted on an Islamic militant Web site on Saturday, al-Baghdadi also said Maysara was the author of "Abu Zubaida Security Manual," which was used as a training guideline by the terror group in Iraq.