Wednesday, October 15, 2003

US forces in Iraq have captured one of the most senior members of Ansar al-Islam, an extremist group suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network, US defence officials said...

The officials said Hawleri is thought to be the third-ranking official in Ansar al-Islam, most of whose fighters were believed to have fled their stronghold in northern Iraq before US forces invaded in March. US and Kurdish forces destroyed the group’s main base in the early weeks of the war.

Ansar had taken control of a slice of the Kurdish-controlled area near the Iranian border, enforcing a version of Islam only slightly less stringent than the Taliban in Afghanistan in mountain strongholds outside areas of Iraq controlled by government forces.

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