Could this possibly be true? Unfortunately, given the shifting and shadowy nature of loyalties among Iraqi officials, it most certainly could. From VOANews, with thanks to Rebecca Bynum:
A suicide bomber from Saudi Arabia, who survived a failed attempt to blow up the Jordanian mission Baghdad in December, alleges that Iraqi police may have captured, and then released, the most wanted terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, two months ago. Both U.S. and Iraqi officials could not confirm the claims made by the suicide bomber.
On a video disk provided by Iraq’s interior ministry, the badly-burned man, identified as Ahmed Abdullah al-Shaiyah, tells Iraqi interrogators about his journey from Saudi Arabia to Baghdad between late October and December to volunteer for suicide missions….
“Do you know what has happened to Zarqawi and where he is?” an Iraqi investigator asked Mr. Shaiyah.
He answered, “I don’t know, but I heard from some of my mujahadeen brothers that Iraqi police had captured Zarqawi in Fallujah.” Mr. Shaiyah says he then heard that the police let the terrorist go because they had failed to recognize him.
A U.S. military official in Baghdad said he had no evidence to corroborate the allegations from the suicide bomber.
And, during a press conference Saturday, Iraq’s interior minister, Falah al-Naqib declined to answer a reporter’s question about the allegation and rumors that Zarqawi had been arrested.
REPORTER: “Can you just clarify a bit what you were just saying or not saying about Zarqawi?”
NAQIB: “I wouldn’t like to comment for the time being. Let us see.”
REPORTER: “Does that mean you have him in custody?”
REPORTER: “Does that mean he is in custody?”
NAQIB: “No comments.”