Abu Hamza al-Muhajer Named Al Qaeda in Iraq Leader
Posted: June 15, 2006
Al Qaeda in Iraq named Abu Hamza al-Muhajer as its leader in a statement posted on a Web site frequently used by Islamist militants.
The statement, posted on June 12, 2006 and signed by Al Qaeda, indicated that the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq “unanimously agreed on Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, to be a successor” to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed on June 7, 2006, in an air strike northwest of Baghdad. The Mujahideen Shura Council was created by Al Qaeda in Iraq and several of the country’s other terrorist groups in January 2006 to unify their efforts and coordinate attacks.
The statement refers to al-Muhajer (Arabic for “immigrant”) as “a beloved brother with jihadi experience and a strong footing in knowledge.” According to a U.S. military spokesman, al-Muhajer is a pseudonym for Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian explosives expert with ties to Ayman Al Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s second in command.
Al-Muhajer, who had been involved in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was led by Zawahri, is thought to have come to Iraq in 2002 after he was trained in Afghanistan. His mission, according to a U.S. military spokesman, was to create an Al Qaeda cell in Baghdad. Al Qaeda in Iraq, which vowed to carry out large-scale attacks after the killing of Zarqawi, makes up about five percent of Iraq’s Sunni Arab insurgency but its suicide bombers have carried out the most deadly attacks.