DEBKAfile - Allawi Hopes to Snare Zarqawi - and Premiership in Baghdad
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
Iyad Allawi closes in on Zarqawi
The Baghdad government’s burgeoning optimism over the prospects of very soon collaring Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s man in Iraq, is fed from interim prime minister Iyad Allawi office.
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources reveal he is telling his inner circle that the special anti-terror units under his direct command are closing in on their quarry. This drive is not divorced from his campaign to keep the job and it has produced a string of successes in the last ten days.
Talib al-Dulaymi, the trusted aide aka as Abu Qutaybah, who set up Zarqawi’s appointments with fellow terrorist chiefs, arranged safe houses and transport, was captured on February 20 at Anah NW of Baghdad with Ahmad Ismail al-Rawi, identified as one of Zarqawi’s drivers. In custody too are Mohammed Najam Ibrahim, described as leader of an al Qaeda-affiliated cell in Baqouba and responsible for a series of beheadings, and another top Zarqawi aide, Haidar Abu Bawari.
Iraqi government security services claim to have infiltrated the terrorist network with embedded policemen.
Allawi’s certainty that the Jordanian terror mastermind is almost within his grasp rests on certain events:
First, in the last two weeks, Iraqi security forces have quietly unearthed Zarqawi’s principal ammunition and explosive caches, partly helped by information obtained in the interrogations of the captured terrorists. Allawi believes that many of the archterrorist’s followers will turn themselves in when they see the wherewithal for fighting on and carrying out attacks is running out.
Second, Zarqawi has been sighted several times making his way through the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad in the direction of the Iranian frontier, indicating he is on the run.
Third, Allawi recently closed a three-way deal with the most influential Iraqi Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and the Tehran leadership for Iran to arrest him if he tries to cross the border and surrender him to Sistani in Najef. There, Zarqawi will stand trial for murdering 182 people and injuring 550 in the 2004 Ashoura massacres he orchestrated in Najef and Karbala. The Iraqi leader has not revealed how this agreement was negotiated with Tehran.
Allawi also informed his close aides he had derived encouragement from additional developments: .....