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7/7 Mastermind Captured in Iraq

The al-Qaeda leader who is thought to have devised the plan for the July 7 suicide bombings in London and an array of terrorist plots against Britain has been captured by the U.S. Forces in Iraq.

Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a former major in Saddam Hussein's army, was apprehended as he tried to enter Iraq from Iran and was transferred this week to the "high-value detainee program" at Guantanamo Bay.

Abd al-Hadi was taken into CIA custody last year, it emerged from US intelligence sources yesterday.

Abd al-Hadi, 45, was regarded as one of al-Qaeda's most experienced, most intelligent and most ruthless commanders. Senior counter-terrorism sources told The Times that he was the man who, in 2003, identified Britain as the key battleground for exporting al-Qaeda's holy war to Europe.

After al-Qaeda restructured its operations in Pakistan's tribal areas he sought out young Britons for instruction at training camps. In late 2004 Abd al-Hadi met Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, from Leeds, at a militant camp in Pakistan and, in the words of a senior investigator, "retasked them" to become suicide bombers.

They were sent back to Britain where they led the terrorist cell that carried out the 7/7 bombings, killing 52 Tube and bus passengers.

He had a close link with another arrested al-Qaeda figure and, the sources said, would have "a wealth of information". He is thought to have been in contact with Osama bin Laden before his capture and might be able to provide information about his leader's whereabouts.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said that Abd al-Hadi had been classified as a "high-value detainee" at Guantanamo, and joined 14 others, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, as the most senior terror suspects at the Cuba prison.

Mr Whitman refused to say when or where he was captured, or by whom. "Abd al-Hadi was trying to return to his native country, Iraq, to manage al-Qaeda's affairs and possibly focus on operations outside Iraq against Western targets," Mr Whitman said.

Read More Here:Times Online

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