Iraqi Police Nab Al Qaeda-Linked Terrorist
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi police forces have detained Umar Baziyani (search), an associate of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, U.S. Central Command announced Friday.
Baziyani is known to have ties to several extremist terrorist groups in Iraq and is believed to be responsible for the death and injury of scores of innocent Iraqi citizens, according to Centcom. Authorities say Baziyani is also wanted in connection with anti-coalition activities.
Baziyani was detained on May 30 in Baghdad, according to Centcom. He's providing information to coalition forces.
"His capture removes one of al-Zarqawi’s most valuable officers from his network," according to the Centcom statement.
U.S. military and intelligence officials believe al-Zarqawi (search), a Jordanian wanted for allegedly organizing attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq on behalf of Al Qaeda, personally carried out the murder of American Nicholas Berg (search), whose decapitation was captured on a videotape released by his killers.
Berg's body was found May 8 near a highway overpass in Baghdad. He was last seen on April 10 when he left his Baghdad hotel.
"We just don't know exactly what he's [Baziyani] involved with just yet, but the big thing is whether he will be able to hand over information to the coalition that could stop some attacks," Jonathan Schanzer, a terrorism analyst with the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, told Fox News.
Last month, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the No. 2 U.S. military leader in Iraq, said of the one-legged al-Zarqawi's whereabouts: "We believe he's moving around the country."
On April 30, a man identifying himself as al-Zarqawi said on an audiotape that his terror group planned to attack Jordan's secret service building, but it did not have a chemical weapon as Jordanian authorities alleged.
A statement by al-Zarqawi on an Islamist Web site in April claimed responsibility for boat attacks against Persian Gulf oil terminals that killed three Americans and disabled Iraq's biggest terminal for more than 24 hours that month.
Al-Zarqawi is also believed to be responsible for the March 2 homicide bombings that targeted Iraqi Shiites on a pilgrimage at shrines in Karbala and Baghdad. At least 181 people were killed.
In his first address to the Iraqi people as an elected official on Friday, new Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi mentioned that al-Zarqawi network as a terror ring that needs to be dealt with.
"Al-Zarqawi and his terror will be stopped, God willing," Allawi said in a translated version of his address, adding that Iraq will introduce entry visas for that country. "Terrorism is affecting Arab and foreign investment into Iraq and denying people the chance to work -- it's spreading unemployment."
Allawi continued, saying: "I ask our population for sacrifice. Populations in Najaf and other areas should do their best to defeat the terrorists who are living in darkness in order to protect our families, to rebuild our country, our new Iraq … the most important task is to defeat terrorism. These criminals should be defeated."
Meanwhile Friday, the United States and Britain revised their U.N. Security Council resolution on transferring sovereignty to Iraq, giving the country's new interim government authority to order the U.S.-led multinational force to leave at any time.
It now declares that the council will terminate the mandate for the multinational force after Iraqi elections held by Dec. 31, 2005, or earlier "if requested by the sovereign government of Iraq."
Fox News' Liza Porteus and The Associated Press contributed to this report.