WASHINGTON - The Pentagon said Friday it has custody of one of al-Qaida's most senior and most experienced operatives, an Iraqi who was attempting to return to his native country when he was captured.
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the captive is Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi. He was received by the Pentagon from the CIA, Whitman said, but the spokesman would not say where or when al-Iraqi was captured or by whom.
The Pentagon took custody of him at Guantanamo Bay this week, Whitman said.
Whitman said the terror suspect was believed responsible for plotting cross-border attacks from Pakistan on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and that he led an effort to assassinate Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
"Abd al-Hadi (al-Iraqi) was trying to return to his native country, Iraq, to manage al-Qaida's affairs and possibly focus on operations outside Iraq against Western targets," Whitman said, adding that the terror suspect met with al-Qaida members in Iran. He said he did not know what time period al-Iraqi was in Iran.
The Pentagon said al-Iraqi was born in Mosul, a city in northern Iraq, in 1961. Whitman said he was a key al-Qaida paramilitary leader in Afghanistan in the late 1990s and during 2002-04 led efforts to attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan with terrorist forces based in Pakistan.
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