And come to think of it, we haven’t heard a peep out of Zarqawi for while. (Of course, we heard nothing from OBL for a long time too, and then he popped up again.) From AFP, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) – A top aide to Al-Qaeda frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been captured in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, the US military revealed.
Mohammed Khalaf Shakar, also known as Abu Talha, is “Zarqawi’s most trusted operations agent in all of Iraq,” a military statement said Thursday.
“This is a major defeat for the Al-Qaeda’s terrorist organisation in Iraq. Zarqawi’s leader in Mosul is out of business,” said US Air Force Brigadier General Donald Alston.
According to the military statement, he surrendered to US and Iraqi forces on Tuesday without a fight in “a quiet neighbourhood in Mosul” after they were led to his whereabouts by “multiple intelligence sources.”
“According to former Talha associates, Talha never stayed more than one night at any one residence,” the statement added.
Alston, the new top military spokesman, told reporters in Baghdad: “Numerous reports indicated he wore a suicide vest 24 hours a day and stated he would never surrender. Instead Talha gave up without a fight.”
Iraqi authorities said recently they had captured one of Abu Talha’s most trusted aides and his financial manager, Motleq Mahmud Motleq Abdullah, also known as Abu Raed, in Mosul on May 28.
They had also announced the arrest of another Zarqawi aide in Mosul known as Mullah Mehdi.
Abu Talha is accused of masterminding some of the deadliest attacks against US and Iraqi forces in Mosul. Iraq’s third-largest city, it has been a major front for the insurgency since November.
“Talha fell like so many others fall, and that is through a combination of factors that ultimately catch up to him,” Alston said.
“In his case like so many others along the way, civilians helped us get closer to him.”
A positive sign.