Brigadier General Joseph Anderson identified the man as Abu Usama al-Tunisi, a Tunisian reportedly viewed as the successor to Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the Egyptian previously the group's most senior figure in Iraq.
"Abu Usama al-Tunisi was one of the most senior leaders within al-Qaeda in Iraq," Anderson said.
The general said a precision strike on Tuesday near the town of Musayyib killed al-Tunisi and his death was a "significant blow" to al-Qaeda in Iraq.
He said al-Qaeda may shift its forces from Iraq to Afghanistan in order to try to expand its operations there.
"All we can tell you is that by numbers and how the groups are operating in very remote locations and not collaboratively they're fractured, ruptured, mitigated here. "The question becomes, where would they go? What would they do?" he said. Handwritten note Anderson said: "United States Air Force F-16 aircraft attacked the target. "Reporting indicated that several al-Qaeda members with ties to senior leadership were present at that time. Three were killed, including al-Tunisi," he said. "His presence was confirmed by one of the two detainees from the operation, one who left the target area just prior to the air strike, who we eventually captured minutes later," he said. Ground forces recovered a handwritten note at the site that was believed to have been written by al-Tunisi, Anderson said, displaying a slide with photographs of the note. "The key points in this hand-written note include, he's surrounded, communications have been cut and he's desperate for help," he said. "What I make of that is that we're having great success in isolating these pockets." Anderson said al-Tunisi oversaw the movement of foreign fighters in Iraq and designated areas to them from where they could launch suicide attacks and car bombings in the Baghdad area.
Via Al Jazeera.
Well, we may not have gotten Osama, but we have killed Abu Osama, which is progress, I suppose.
Seriously, this article is very good news. If al-Qaeda is forced to retreat from Iraq, it will be a cataclysmic blow to its reputation. It would be one thing if Iraq was just another front, but it's not. Al-Qaeda's plan foresees three stages: the stage of "the power of vexation and exhaustion", during which the existing order is torn down, resulting in chaos and anarchy; the stage of "the administration of savagery", in which a sort of pseudo-state is set up within this area of anarchy; and the stage of "the power of establishment", in which the pseudo-state matures into a full fledged nation.¹ Had operations in Iraq been in the first stage, withdrawing would not be a problem; operations are expected to be fairly fluid in this stage. When al-Qaeda announced the formation of the "Islamic State in Iraq", however, operations moved into the second stage. Withdrawing now would be admitting that their plan had failed. The subtitle of the book The Management of Savagery is "The Most Critical Phase Through Which the Umma Will Pass", this certainly seems accurate, since this is where they have failed.
¹The Management of Savagery, translated with funding from the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University.