Officials announced Sunday that they’d arrested Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, north of Baghdad a few days ago. A number of his followers were also taken into custody.
“We believe that al-Qaida in Iraq suffers from a serious leadership crisis. Our troops have dealt fatal and painful blows to this organization,” Iraq’s security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie said.
Iraqi authorities and coalition forces claim al-Saeedi was the second-most important figure in al-Qaida in Iraq behind Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who took over after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike in June.
They also claim al-Saeedi was directly responsible for the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra last February, which fueled an outbreak of deadly sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites across the country that continues today and has killed hundreds of Iraqis.
“Al-Saeedi carried out al-Qaida’s policies in Iraq and the orders of the slain al-Zarqawi to incite sectarian violence in the country, through attempting to start a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis — but their wishes did not materialize,” al-Rubaie said.