US says top al-Qaida in Iraq leader captured

The US command Wednesday announced the arrest of the highest-ranking Iraqi in the al-Qaida in Iraq leadership, saying information from him indicates that the terror group's foreign-based leadership wields considerable influence over the Iraqi chapter. Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, also known as Abu Shahid, was captured in Mosul on July 4, command spokesman Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner told reporters. "Al-Mashhadani is believed to be the most senior Iraqi in the al-Qaida in Iraq network," Bergner said. He said al-Mashhadani was a close associate of Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born head of the al-Qaida in Iraq. Bergner said al-Mashhadani "served as an intermediary between (al-Qaida in Iraq) leader al-Masri, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri," the number two figure in the global movement. "In fact communication between the senior al-Qaida leadership and al-Masri frequently went through al-Mashhadani," Bergner said.