Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – al-Qaida’s No. 1 leader in Iraq – has been captured near the Syrian border, according to an unconfirmed report today.
The man presumed to be al-Zarqawi was captured during a joint operation by U.S. forces and Iraqi police, reported the Al Siyasah newspaper, quoting Iraqi sources.
The Pentagon, however, told WorldNetDaily late this afternoon it had no confirmation.
“We heard a rumor yesterday and another iteration of it today,” said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Venable. “But I have nothing upon which to validate its accuracy.”
Asked if he believed he would have had some confirmation by now if the report were true, Venable said, “Yes.”
According to the popular Arab television news network al-Jazeera, the newspaper cited Iraqi police reporting the suspect was caught in a white shirt and jeans, and offered no resistance.
In an effort to prove that the accused is indeed al-Zarqawi, investigators for the U.S. and Iraqi are sending a DNA sample for testing, according to the unconfirmed report.
The Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi is the most wanted terror figure in Iraq and the U.S. government has placed a $25 million bounty on him.
According to the intelligence news service Geostrategy-Direct, Pakistani officials say al-Qaida is becoming more decentralized and its top leader, Osama bin Laden, may not be running the organization.
Instead, growing evidence indicates that al-Qaida No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri may be in charge of the terrorist network, with al-Zarqawi emerging as the No. 2 leader of the group.
Al-Zarqawi’s faction has claimed responsibility for many terror attacks as well as the beheadings of foreigners, including American businessman Nicholas Berg, South Korean translator Kim Sun-il and Bulgarian truck driver Georgi Lazov.