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By KIM GAMEL
Associated Press writer
August 25, 2008 6:00 AM

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military on Sunday announced the arrest of an al-Qaida in Iraq figure who allegedly planned the 2006 kidnapping of American journalist Jill Carroll - one of the highest-profile attacks against Westerners in Iraq.
Salim Abdullah Ashur al-Shujayri, also known as Abu Othman, was captured Aug. 11 in Baghdad, a statement said.
He was accused of being "the planner behind the kidnapping" of Carroll, a Christian Science Monitor reporter who was seized Jan. 7, 2006 and released three months later.
The statement also said al-Shujayri's associates were involved in the kidnappings of Christian peace activists and British aid worker Margaret Hassan but did not elaborate.
Carroll was seized in west Baghdad and her interpreter was killed. The kidnappers, a formerly unknown group calling itself the Revenge Brigade, demanded the release of all women detainees in Iraq. U.S. officials freed some female detainees but said the decision was unrelated to the demands.
Kidnappings of Westerners forced foreigners to flee Iraq or take refuge in heavily guarded compounds, diminishing the ability of aid groups to operate here. Many of the victims were butchered and their deaths recorded on videotapes distributed to Arab satellite TV stations or posted on the Web.
Hassan, 59, the director of CARE international in Iraq, was abducted in Baghdad in October 2004 and shown on a video pleading for her life, calling on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw troops from Iraq.
She was killed a month later, but her body was never found. The case drew special attention because Hassan, who was married to an Iraqi, had lived in the country for 30 years and spent nearly half her life helping Iraqis.
Four men from the Chicago-based peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams disappeared Nov. 26, 2005, in Baghdad and videotapes showed them in captivity. One of the hostages, Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., was found shot dead. The other three - two Canadians and a Briton - were later rescued.
Carroll was seized in west Baghdad and her interpreter was killed. The kidnappers, a formerly unknown group calling itself the Revenge Brigade, demanded the release of all women detainees in Iraq. U.S. officials freed some female detainees but said the decision was unrelated to the demands.
Al-Shujayri was reportedly the al-Qaida emir, or leader, in eastern Baghdad, the U.S. statement said. He was also suspected of overseeing car bombings and suicide attacks aimed at inciting sectarian violence.
The statement said U.S. troops also captured another al-Qaida figure - Ali Rash Nasir Jiyad al-Shammari - on Aug. 17 in Baghdad. He was accused of being a senior adviser for the terror network and funneling money, weapons and explosives to insurgents in the capital "during its most active operational period in early 2007," the military said.
Al-Shammari, also known as Abu Tiba, personally approved targets for car and suicide bombings targeting Iraqi civilians, the military said.
The military statement said al-Qaida in Iraq conducted almost 300 bombings, killing more than 1,500 civilians and wounding more than twice that many in 2007, compared with 28 attacks that killed 125 Iraqi civilians in the first half of this year.
"The capture of Abu Tiba and Abu Othman eliminates two of the few remaining experienced leaders in the AQI network," said military spokesman Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll.
The arrests come as violence has decreased sharply in Baghdad and surrounding areas after the 2007 U.S. troop buildup, a Sunni decision to join forces with the Americans against al-Qaida and a Shiite militia cease-fire.
Iraqis, however, continue to face sporadic attacks.
Gunmen driving an ambulance opened fire on a foot patrol in Baqouba, capital of the turbulent Diyala province, killing three policemen and wounding a bystander, police said.
In eastern Baghdad, assailants set off back-to-back roadside bombs.
The first bomb was detonated when a police patrol stopped in the area, according to a U.S. spokesman Maj. Mark Cheadle. The second went off when Iraqi security forces arrived at the scene, he added.
Cheadle said two Iraqis were killed and 13 people wounded. Iraqi police reported three dead and 20 wounded.
The U.S. military also said a woman wearing a bomb-laden vest surrendered Sunday to Iraqi police rather than blow herself up in Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad.
She led police to a second suicide vest, and a 13-year-old girl was arrested, the military said.
Women have increasingly been recruited by insurgents to carry out attacks because it's easier for them to evade security checks.

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080825/NEWS/808250336
 
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