MEDIA WATCH: Top Terror Suspect (Not) Caught in Baquba
Major information sources such as CNN and the Associated Press continue to file reports such as the following:
Alleged al-Qaida-linked leader captured in Iraq
Arrest comes a day after attacks killed 30, including 3 U.S. troops
Baqouba, Iraq, on Friday.
The Associated Press
Updated: 7:19 a.m. ET Feb. 25, 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi forces captured the leader of an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist cell allegedly responsible for carrying out a string of beheadings in Iraq, the government said Friday, a day after a series of attacks left a total of 30 people dead, including three U.S. soldiers.
The government identified the captured cell leader as Mohamed Najam Ibrahim. It said he was arrested in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, but gave no date for the arrest.
I am on the ground in Baquba, so wanted to know more about this man, and why I learned about this arrest in the news rather than with the soldiers. Army intelligence officers told me repeatedly, often grinning as if they found a hundred-dollar bill by their feet, that they have no idea if Ibrahim is actually associated with Bin Laden or Zarqawi.
The Coalition’s purposes would best be served by saying, “Yes, he was a top terror suspect, and we got him just before he carried out a major attack.” But the Army continues to tell me they have no knowledge of Ibrahim being a top terror suspect. Just this morning, yet another Army intelligence officer in Iraq, Major Dean Wollan, told me the US has no evidence that Ibrahim is the big catch the media is reporting. Would be nice if Ibrahim were a top terror leader, but this seems to be a case where the mainstream media is misreporting in a positive light while the US Army is saying, “We had no idea, and still don’t.”
Credit to the Army for not taking credit; strike to big media for apparently not checking with the Army. Whatever the case, Ibrahim is said to be in jail