BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S. military on Thursday announced the capture of two key members of Iraq's most-feared terror group, including one suspected in the kidnap-slaying of an Egyptian envoy and attacks on senior diplomats from Pakistan and Bahrain.
Khamis Farhan Khalaf Abd al-Fahdawi, known as Abu Seba, was arrested last Saturday following operations in the Ramadi area west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement.
He was accused of involvement in the abduction and killing of Egypt's top envoy in Iraq and attacks on Pakistani and Bahraini diplomats earlier this month.
"Seba served as a senior lieutenant of Al Qaeda in Iraq (search), and is suspected in attacks against diplomats of Bahrain, Pakistan and the recent murder of Egyptian envoy, Ihab Salah al Din Ahmad al-Sherif (search)," the U.S. statement said. "Al Qaeda ordered the attacks against Arab diplomats in an effort to reduce support for the government of Iraq according to a military spokesman."
Another Al Qaeda in Iraq lieutenant, Abdullah Ibrahim Mohammed Hassan al Shadad, or Abu Abdul Aziz, was captured Sunday, the command said. It said Abu Abdul Aziz was a top lieutenant of Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) and served as operations officer for the group.
The statement said Abu Abdul Aziz was cooperating with coalition forces.
In an Internet statement Thursday, Al Qaeda in Iraq acknowledged that Abu Abdul Aziz had been captured but described him as the commander of one of the group's Baghdad brigades.
"They invent the posts: here is the prince of Baghdad, the deputy of al-Zarqawi, or one of the top leaders," the group said. "God knows that our brother Abu Abdul Aziz, God free him from capture, is nothing but a leader of one of the brigades in Baghdad."
The group said he was detained when American and Iraqi forces stormed a house in Baghdad and that Abu Abdul Aziz was wounded and possibly killed.
Al-Sherif's slaying, announced by Al Qaeda in Iraq in a statement last week, stunned many in Egypt, where opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq is high. Al Qaeda in Iraq said it abducted the envoy and condemned him to death as an "apostate" because his government intended to install a full ambassador in Baghdad as a sign of support for Iraq's new government.
The group, which has been blamed for many of the suicide car bombings, beheadings and attacks in Iraq, boasted in a new Web statement Tuesday that it succeeded in snatching al-Sherif in broad daylight in Baghdad earlier this month.
Diplomats from Pakistan and Bahrain were fired on days later in separate attacks, slightly wounding the Bahraini.