Alleged bin Laden aide killed in Iraq

September 26, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- An escaped prisoner thought to be one of al-Qaida's former top lieutenants in Indonesia was killed yesterday when British forces attempted to arrest him in southern Iraq.

Omar al-Farouk, whom British authorities described as "a leading terrorist connected to activities such as murders and kidnappings," was killed in the early morning during a raid on his house in the city of Basra, military officials said.

Maj. Charlie Burbridge, the British military spokesman in Basra, declined to link the suspect to al-Qaida, but al-Farouk has been accused of serving as Osama bin Laden's representative in Indonesia before his arrest and detention by U.S. authorities in Afghanistan.

"He is a man of considerable significance," Burbridge said.

Al-Farouk, a 35-year-old native of Kuwait who has also been known as Farouk al-Iraqi, was arrested by Indonesian authorities in 2002 and transferred to U.S. custody at Bagram air base in Afghanistan; he escaped with three other suspects in July 2005. At the time, authorities identified the escaped Kuwaiti prisoner as Mahmoud Ahmad Mohammed.

Afterward, the fugitive appeared in an Arabic-language video in which he accused U.S. authorities of mistreating him and other inmates. He said he was held with his wrists tightly bound for long periods and forced to watch and listen to repeated images of the Sept. 11 attacks, accompanied by loud music.

In the video, made available by the Washington-based anti- terrorist SITE Institute, he addressed American citizens and said: "We will fight them in this country, in Iraq, everywhere, even in their own country. ... We pray that Allah, blessed and almighty, will give us victory over them in their country."

Cmdr. Jane Allen, the British military spokeswoman in Baghdad, said an operation targeting the "known terrorist" was launched by a large number of troops before dawn.

"Unfortunately, he resisted arrest, and as a consequence he was killed in an exchange of fire," she said.

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