American forces in Iraq have just captured Abu Musab al-Zarqawi‘s senior lieutenant, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s exclusive counter-terror sources. His nom de guerre is Omar Baziyani (his real name is not known). Under questioning he revealed that the Number One terrorist in Iraq has set his sights on a huge terrorist operation that will top the September 11 attacks in the United States in scale and destructiveness. Zarqawi’s first choice of location is West Europe where he commands an efficient operating infrastructure that he knows well. But he has not ruled out an attack on the United States either.
Our sources add that Baziyani was quickly replaced by a Syrian operative known only as Abu Mahdi.
While Zarqawi speaks to his close circle of his admiration for Osama bin Laden, he does not feel subordinate to the al Qaeda leader; nor does he aspire to follow in his footsteps by turning Iraq into a second Afghanistan under a regime analogous to the Taliban. He believes mistakes were made in Afghanistan which brought the American invasion down on their heads. Above all, he aims to stage in the coming weeks a terrorist attack that will put bin Laden’s epic 9/11 in the shade.
From Baziyani, American interrogators learned of two other members of Zarqawi’s tight circle, both of whom use assumed names: Abu Ali, who is the group’s missile and rockets expert, and Abu Mohammed, a specialist in mixing explosives and bombing devices.
The Americans know more about Abu Mohammed than any other of Zarqawi’s intimates. After learning from another captured terrorist that he lived for part of the 1990s in Copenhagen and was in charge of some of Zarqawi’s European networks, US agents visited the Danish capital to try and locate any contacts that might be helping the Iraqi terror chief set up his big strike.
Captured terrorists also disclosed valuable information on Zarqawi’s organization in Iraq.
The country has been divided by terrorist planners into nine operational districts, each with its own “Emir”. Our sources reveal that the Emir of northwestern Iraq, which covers the Iraqi-Syrian frontier regions including Al Qaim, is known as Emir Hussein Salim. He has 60 terrorists under his command. The commander of the Mosul district, Emir Abu Taalat, fields 600 terror activists The controller of western Iraq, including the Jordanian border region and Anbar Province west of Fallujah is Emir Abu Azzam. The size of his force is unknown. Zarqawi attaches especial importance to this region because of his Jordanian origin and connections with his networks in the kingdom. The Emir commanding terrorist operations in Fallujah, whose terrorist installations and hideouts attract frequent US air strikes, is Abu Nawas, who has 500 men at his disposal.
The smallest contingent of 50 terrorists is deployed in Baghdad, although Zarqawi claims responsibility for the most devastating attacks occurring there.
Samarra has 80 terrorists and Diyala in eastern Iraq including Baqouba, an 80-strong terrorist contingent.
Intelligence estimates Zarqawi’s total Iraqi terrorist force as between 1000 and 1,500-strong, backed by a small logistical unit of 100 to 120 men who look after the maintenance of the arms and explosives caches scattered across Iraq.
This unit answers directly to Zarqawi. Neither the Emirs nor their subordinates have any knowledge of those secret stores, which makes their dependence on Zarqawi and his staff absolute. To draw weapons or ammunition for a strike or even for self-defense as in Fallujah, they are obliged to apply directly to the top man or his lieutenants.