An alleged, top al-Qaeda figure accused of masterminding one of the deadliest car bombings in Iraq and the videoed execution of a Russian diplomat, has been killed in a shoot out with coalition forces in Baghdad, the US military said today.
Mahir Ahmad Mahmud Judu al-Zubaydi, better known as Abu Rami, is said to have controlled the eastern half of Baghdad, an area called Rusafa.
Coalition troops surrounded a building in Adhamiya last night and demanded the occupants to surrender. They were shot at and returned fire. In the exchange, Abu Rami and a woman, who was with him, were killed.
A military statement did not specify whether the “coalition forces” involved were American or British. British special forces regularly take part in operations to kill or capture high-level al-Qaeda targets in the capital.
The death of Abu Rami will be a blow to the extremist, Sunni Arab group, said Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll, a US military spokesman.
"His removal from the al-Qaeda in Iraq network will send shockwaves through Baghdad's terrorist bombing networks,” he said.
“Its ability to conduct grizzly attacks against Iraqi civilians and coalition and Iraqi forces has been severely crippled by this precision operation."
A bombing cell that was part of a network allegedly run by Abu Rami is thought to have been behind a coordinated car bomb and suicide bomb attack in Baghdad two days ago at the peak of the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fitr.
Scores of people were killed and injured in the blasts near two Shia mosques.
Abu Rami is also accused of masterminding one of the deadliest attacks against Shia Arabs in the war. More than 200 people died in the car bombing in the Baghdad Shia slum of Sadr City in November 2006.
In addition, the alleged militant is thought to have taken part in multiple kidnappings and videotaped executions, including the fatal shooting in June 2006 of one of four Russian diplomats.
The news of Abu Rami’s death came as Poland, one of the last countries with a sizeable contribution of troops in Iraq, ended its mission and said that it was pulling out its remaining 900 soldiers by the end of the month.
"We feel responsible for the future of Iraq,” Bogdan Klich, Poland’s Defence Minister, said during an end-of-mission ceremony on a military base in the Shia province of Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad.
“The completion of our mission does not mean end of an engagement. We hope to cooperate in Iraq's economic and financial areas," he said.
Twenty-one Polish soldiers have been killed and 70 others wounded over the past five and a half years.
Poland’s exit from Iraq will leave 24 countries with foreign troops on the ground.
Most only have a token presence, however. The US military is by far the largest contributor, comprising 149,000 of the 156,000 forces in theatre. Britain comes a distant second, with 4,100 forces – a figure that is set to drop further next year.