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U.S. forces kill Iraqi al-Qaida leader

BAGHDAD – U.S. forces said Thursday that they had killed an Iraqi insurgent leader responsible for the death of a 20-year-old Army reservist who became a focus of national attention in the United States during the four years he was missing in action.

U.S. soldiers fatally shot Hammadi Awdah Abd Farhan during a gun battle Nov. 11 that broke out as they entered a house in western Baghdad searching for him, the military said in a statement.

Farhan, a leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who is also known as Hajji Hammadi, has masterminded numerous other attacks, including one in June that killed three U.S. Marines, two interpreters and more than 20 Iraqis in the western city of Karmah, the U.S. military said.

“The removal of Hajji Hammadi from the AQI network is yet another significant blow to the terrorist organization,” said Brig. Gen. David Perkins.

Al-Qaida in Iraq is a mostly homegrown Sunni extremist group that has had foreign leadership, according to the military. The organization has been weakened over the past two years by U.S. military operations and the defection of its members to American-backed armed groups known as Sons of Iraq. But the group still carries out car-bomb attacks and assassinations.

The military said Farhan was behind the April 9, 2004, kidnapping of Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin during an attack on his fuel convoy. A video was broadcast days later on the Arabic satellite channel al-Jazeera, showing the Batavia, Ohio, native in a floppy camouflage hat surrounded by masked gunmen.

For nearly four years, there was no word on Maupin’s fate. Then in March, soldiers acting on a tip from Iraqi residents found his remains in an agricultural area northwest of Baghdad.


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