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Aide of al-Qaeda’s Zarqawi arrested in Baghdad raid: interior ministry

An aide of former al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been arrested in Baghdad, Iraq’s interior ministry announced in a statement on Tuesday.

The arrest was conducted by the ministry’s Federal Police Intelligence Directorate in the al-Refaq neighborhood of southwestern Baghdad, the statement said. No time or date for the arrest was given.

Zarqawi, who gained notoriety for presiding over the AQI and its brutal savagery, was killed in Iraq by US troops in 2006.

His unnamed aide went on to join Islamic State (ISIS) “assassination squads” in Diyala province, according to the statement.

“During preliminary questioning, he admitted his affiliation to the organization and his involvement in several activities with al-Qaeda and ISIS by setting up fake checkpoints for assassinations.”

He also incited hostility among Diyala’s locals, “displacing local residents in Hibhib sub-district with sectarian motives before the region was liberated” from ISIS, the statement added.

Al-Qaeda’s prominence as a radical Islamist group has faded in Iraq over the past decade in the shadow of ISIS, which seized swathes of the country and neighboring Syria in the summer of 2014. ISIS was declared defeated in December 2017, after an international military campaign.

Though ISIS no longer holds Iraqi territory, its militants remain a security threat – especially in areas that are disputed between Erbil and Baghdad. Source