CAIRO, Egypt – An umbrella group for Al Qaeda in Iraq has confirmed the death of a senior leader, calling the Tunisian linked to the kidnapping and killings of U.S. soldiers last year a "martyr," according to a statement posted Monday.
The Islamic State of Iraq praised Abu Usama al-Tunisi of performing jihad, or holy war, "with his tongue and teeth" and credited him with participating in the battles of Fallujah, storming the Abu Ghraib prison and creating a "triangle of death" south of Baghdad, according to the statement posted on a militant Web site.
The statement, which could not be independently verified, did not say when or how al-Tunisi died. The U.S. Central Command reported last week that a U.S. airstrike south of Baghdad killed al-Tunisi and two other terror suspects.
U.S. military officials said al-Tunisi was a leader in helping bring foreign terrorists into the country and had operated in Youssifiyah, southwest of Baghdad since November 2004.
He became to overall emir of Youssifiyah in mid-2006, and his group was responsible for kidnapping U.S. soldiers in June 2006, the officials said. One soldier was killed at a river checkpoint south of Baghdad and two others were abducted on June 16, 2006. The mutilated bodies of the kidnapped soldiers were found three days later.
"The war between us and them is a competition; they get us, we get them. Yesterday, we tore their bodies and their parts were scattered everywhere, and we killed them and they are still licking their wounds," the Islamic State of Iraq said in its statement.
In a separate posting on an extremist Web site Monday, the Islamic State of Iraq issued a video allegedly showing an U.S. Apache helicopter being shot down by an anti-aircraft machine gun.
The short video, which could not be independently verified, shows brief clips of a man holding a machine gun, a helicopter flying and later landing with plumes of smoke rising from it. The video indicated the shooting took place on Sept. 25 in southwest Baghdad suburb of Hor Rajab.
The U.S. military reported last week an Apache helicopter that was fighting off a ground attack on U.S. forces was hit by enemy fire and made a hard landing south Baghdad. There were no casualties in the attack, which the U.S. military said took place on Wednesday.