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U.S. military: Senior al Qaeda chief killed in Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • Abu Qaswarah killed during an operation in Mosul on October 5
  • He was second-in-command to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri
  • Coalition forces tracked him down inside a building in the northern Iraqi city
  • U.S. military described Abu Qaswarah as a "charismatic" leader
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military announced Wednesday that coalition forces recently killed al Qaeda in Iraq's "charismatic" senior leader in northern Iraq.

Abu Ayyub al-Masri

Abu Qaswarah was second only to Abu Ayyub al-Masri (pictured) in al Qaeda in Iraq leadership.

Abu Qaswarah, also known as Abu Sara, was killed during an operation in Mosul on October 5, the military said.

The Moroccan native was second-in-command to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, according to the military. He had "historic ties" to al-Masri's predecessor, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and senior al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the military said.

Abu Qaswarah -- who became AQI's senior leader in northern Iraq in June 2007 -- was the target of the military raid in Mosul earlier this month, the military said.

Coalition forces tracked him down inside a building in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which "served as a key command and control location for AQI," according to the military.

"Upon entering the building, forces were immediately fired upon," the military said. "Coalition forces returned fire in self-defense, leading to the death of five terrorists. It was later determined that one of the five was positively identified as Abu Qaswarah."

The U.S. military described Abu Qaswarah as a "charismatic" leader who rallied al Qaeda in Iraq's northern network after "major setbacks to the terrorist organization across Iraq."

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Groups comprised mainly of former Sunni insurgents -- known as Awakening Councils or "Sons of Iraq" -- have turned against al Qaeda in Iraq, helping to diminish its presence in several parts of the country.

The U.S. military credits them with playing a key role in bringing about the nationwide drop in violence that coincided with the "surge" of U.S. forces.

Abu Qaswarah -- who trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan -- helped bring foreign terrorists into northern Iraq, where they carried out a spate of suicide attacks, according to the military.

He also organized and led AQI's attacks in Mosul, including the "failed attempt to destroy the Mosul Civic Center during the holy month of Ramadan," which took place in September, the military said.

That attack, the military said, "could have killed hundreds of innocent Iraqis."

The military said Abu Qaswarah's death "will significantly degrade AQI operations in Mosul and northern Iraq, leaving the network without a leader to oversee and coordinate its operations in the region."

All About MosulIraqAl Qaeda in Iraq

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