Audio tape denies capture of Iraq insurgent leader

The self-described leader of an al-Qaida front group issued a new audio tape this weekend, deepening the mystery surrounding the identity of the insurgent leader whom the Iraqi government claims to have in custody and whose very existence the U.S. once questioned.

The man purporting to be Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State of Iraq, issued the usual litany of militant rhetoric against the West in the 40-minute tape that was posted Saturday on militant Web sites, AP reported.

He criticized Pope Benedict XVI's recent trip to the Middle East, including Israel, condemned the Pakistani army's offensive against the Taliban and called President Barack Obama "a black slave and Muslim renegade."

The speaker also said the Iraqi government's claim that it had captured him was "a pure lie," adding the detainee who has confessed to being him was an impostor.

"The primary goal of their lie is to pressure us to physically appear in a visual production," he said. "It is a stupid trick."

The audio could not be independently confirmed, but the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group that monitors such Web sites said the voice seemed like that of the person previously identified as al-Baghdadi.

It was the latest development in the drama surrounding the Iraqi government's April 23 announcement that they had arrested al-Baghdadi.

The issue has implications for the professionalism of the Iraqi security forces, which handled the arrest without U.S. assistance, as well as for the Sunni insurgency.

Past Iraqi claims to have captured or killed al-Baghdadi turned out to be wrong, and the Islamic State of Iraq has issued at least two other denials of al-Baghdadi's capture.

The U.S. military has not confirmed the suspect's identity. But the government has been insistent that this time it has its man.

"We have no doubt that the person in our custody is the real Abu Omar al-Baghdadi," said Firyad Rawndouzi, a member of the parliament's security and defense committee. "Al-Qaida leaders want to raise the morale of their followers by alleging that al-Baghdadi is still free and the Iraqi government is lying about this."

Iraqi military officials proudly displayed a photo of a man with a close-cropped beard and black T-shirt in describing his capture as a major setback for Sunni insurgents trying to intensify attacks after a relative lull.

Iraqi television later aired partial footage of the interrogation of the suspect, who confessed and said his real name was Ahmed Abed Ahmed Khamees al-Mujamaie, born in 1969 in Diyala province north of Baghdad. He said al-Qaida in Iraq relied for funding on money sent by charities in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria as well as from robberies carried out inside Iraq.

The Islamic State has never released a picture of the man it claims is al-Baghdadi, which is a codename. Al-Mujamaie's wife has publicly denied that her husband is al-Baghdadi and is trying to hire a lawyer to help in his defense.

Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University, said the continued inability to definitively prove al-Baghdadi's identity could give the insurgency a boost by undermining public confidence in the government as the U.S. military begins to withdraw.

"It's remarkable that even with this person in custody there's still not any more clarity on whether this person even exists," he said. "This difficulty in publicly resolving his identity potentially strengthens the insurgency, especially if he turns out not to be the person they claim he is."

The capture or death of other high-ranking insurgent figures in the past - including former al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2006 - has done little to slow the bombings.

Nearly 200 people alone have been killed in blasts in the Iraqi capital since al-Baghdadi was purportedly caught.

"Even if Baghdadi's arrest is true, this case illustrates the difficulties in combating the jihadist threat merely by targeting top leaders," said SITE director Rita Katz.

U.S. officials, faced with the potentially embarrassing possibility of being seen as contradicting the Iraqi government, played down the significance of identity in an organization that has proven resilient in the face of setbacks.

The U.S. military has said in the past that al-Baghdadi was a fictitious character used to give an Iraqi face to an organization dominated by foreign al-Qaida fighters. But al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden vouched for al-Baghdadi in a 2007 audio tape in which he said "Emir Abu Omar would rather have his neck severed than betray the Muslims."

Even if al-Baghdadi does exist, it was unclear what his role is in the terror group - whether he really runs it or whether he's a figurehead.

"What we are doing is trying to determine - regardless of what his name is - what role did he play in the network," Maj. Gen. David Perkins said at a news conference earlier this month. "Is somebody else going to take his place? We find routinely in these networked organizations that when you remove somebody, somebody else gets moved in."

Iran announces readiness to commit its JCPOA commitments
Iran announces readiness to commit its JCPOA commitments
Iran's envoy reacts to IAEA chief's comments
Iran's envoy reacts to IAEA chief's comments
Iran's nuclear technology improves despite limitations
Iran's nuclear technology improves despite limitations
Loading Bars
Latest
Armenia does not want to take bodies of its deceased soldiers as it fears anger of people - Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan
Kazakh PM meets with Turkish Defense Minister
Footage from liberated from occupation Padar village of Gubadli region (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan neutralizes one of 3 missiles shot by Armenian troops at Azerbaijan's Tartar
Azerbaijan's Bank Association denies lies spread by Armenian side
Effective co-op in field of border security established between Azerbaijan, Iran
Armenian Armed Forces shell Azerbaijan’s Tartar by using 'Smerch' missiles
Armenia indiscriminately targets civilians - Assistant to Azerbaijani president
Azerbaijanis hold rally in California, condemning Armenian terror (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani compatriots living in Minnesota hold protest rally (PHOTO)
Armenian Armed Forces shelling Azerbaijan's Tartar city, villages
Armenian armed forces shelling Tartar city with artillery, missiles in gross breach of humanitarian ceasefire
Iran's powder detergent production grows
Azerbaijanis in Denmark hold protest rally against Armenian terror (PHOTO)
Turkish embassy in Georgia talks joint energy projects of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey
Protest rally against Armenian attack on Ganja held in Bielefeld, Germany (PHOTO)
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale October 27
Armenian Armed Forces’ quadrocopter destroyed by Azerbaijani troops
Al Jazeera posts article covering aftermath of Armenian missile attack on Ganja
Baku's secondary housing prices show monthly decline
Investments in Iran's capital market increase
Uzbek Reconstruction and Development Fund to support creation of Export Support Fund
Turkey's export of defense products to Morocco plunges
Nagorno-Karabakh region to be liberated sooner or later: press secretary of Turkish president
USD falls against Uzbek soum for the first time in three months
Work connected with laying of gas pipelines on freed Azerbaijani territories kicked off (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Volume of maritime cargo shipment via Turkey from Spain disclosed
Turkmenistan significantly increases import of wheat flour from EAEU countries
Azerbaijani railway operator admitted to consortium of Trans-Caspian Transport Route
Georgia reveals results of 18 foreign exchange auctions conducted by National Bank
Iran Khodro reveals amount of funds saved thanks to domestic manufacturing
Export of Turkish-made defense products to China slumps
Armenian Armed Forces fire at school in Aghdam (PHOTO)
Assistant to Azerbaijani president comments on photo of Armenia's defense minister together with Armenian soldiers
Macron's anti-Islamic statements point to extreme misunderstanding of religion - Arab analyst
Uzbekistan’s Kashkadarya tops list of regions implementing foreign investments
Heritage Foundation's Foreign Policy Studies Center Director comments on photo showing Russian field camp set up near Armenian Tegh
Georgia sees increase in hazelnuts export
Georgia reveals volume of exported apples
U.S. regrets EU move on tariffs, seeks deal on Boeing-Airbus row
Russia seeking to be stabilizer in South Caucasus, says Russian expert
Uzbekistan discusses strengthening multilateral co-op with China and S. Korea
President Aliyev congratulates commanders of joint military corps who distinguished themselves in liberation of Gubadli city, villages of Gubadli district from occupiers
Review of statistics of people registered within state program 'Remotely from Georgia'
Volume of trade turnover between Turkmenistan, Russia’s Perm Krai revealed
Azerbaijani army does not fire at civilians - Defense Ministry
President Ilham Aliyev interviewed by Italian Rai 1 TV channel (PHOTO)
Iran launches new water treatment facility in Tehran
Iran studies Famotidine as Coronavirus treatment
Industrial production in Karabakh to increase in post-conflict period - CAERC head
Turkish president urges to boycott French goods
Work on power supply to strategic facilities in freed Azerbaijani territories underway (PHOTO)
Bank of Georgia suffers loss
S&P Global Ratings expects Azerbaijan's export to grow in next years
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price falling
Wildfire breaks out in Azerbaijan's Dashkasan district from Armenian attacks (VIDEO)
SOCAR considering new investments in Turkey
Romania's import of Azerbaijani products for 9M2020 revealed
Armenian Armed Forces fire at Azerbaijan’s Tartar district
Price of most Georgian companies’ shares up on London Stock Exchange
UK armed forces take control of ship in English Channel, seven people detained
Mobile phones and smartphones import down in Georgia
Azerbaijan confirms 131 more COVID-19 recoveries
Iran enlarges petrochemicals production
Azerbaijan hikes export to Belarus in 9M2020
S&P says Azerbaijani manat to maintain position against USD
German government raises 2020 GDP forecast to -5.5%
Turkmenistan ready to support contracts with companies of Russia’s Perm Krai
Recruiting children by Armenia against Azerbaijan is war crime, says Lebanese lawyer
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan restoring historical justice on battlefield
Azerbaijan's Aghjabadi district again under fire of Armenian Armed Forces
It is not worth using peacekeeping efforts of third states in settlement of Karabakh conflict - Georgian expert
Weekly digest of Azerbaijan’s energy sector
Uzbekneftegaz accelerates commissioning of technological devices due to autumn-winter period
EU's Barnier heads for London for Brexit deal talks
Corn oil produced by Georgian Plant Oil Company Qarva to enter supermarkets
President Ilham Aliyev talks proving to world that Karabakh is Azerbaijan's historical land
Turkey discloses 9M2020 data on cargo movement via its ports from UK
Armenia's leadership, criminal junta regime have no moral, ethical framework - Azerbaijani top official
Iran ready to fire at Armenian Armed Forces if they approach its border with Azerbaijan
Iran`s Quchan grapes exports revealed
Turkmen private sector provides half of industrial production in Balkan region
Amount of industrial enterprises launched in Iran's Hamadan soars
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for October 26
Uzbekneftegaz eyes to increase natural gas production
Armenia never supports peace – Azerbaijani MP in interview to TRT World TV channel (VIDEO)
Karabakh conflict's settlement process is at hot point - Kremlin spokesman
Over 230 tankers with ACG oil shipped from Ceyhan terminal
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office gives updates on civil casualties, damages
Iran's Shazand Oil Refining Company opens tender to buy equipment
Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council slams French president
Canada points out importance of creating mechanism for resolving Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
EBRD supports construction of 100 MW wind farm in south of Kazakhstan
Georgian Tegeta Motors Company makes another deals
All nations in Azerbaijan united and will achieve victory - head of Russian community
Iran boosts generation capacity of thermal power plants
Kazakhstan's fixed investments volume decreases over 9M2020
Uzbekhydroenergo ready for foreign direct investment, says Fitch
German business sentiment falls on coronavirus angst
Turkey's 9M2020 export of defense industry products to Germany down
All news