U.S.: Egyptian will take over from Zarqawi

June 9, 2006 at 10:15 AM

WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- An Egyptian who was one of the very first al-Qaida militants to infiltrate Iraq will probably take over from slain terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The militant, who uses the name Abu al-Masri, which means the Egyptian Father in Arabic, was named by Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the spokesman for the U.S.-led Multinational Force Iraq, Thursday.

Caldwell spoke at a briefing in Baghdad to announce that the U.S. military had killed al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

"If you had to pick somebody," he told reporters, al-Masri "would be the person that is going to try to occupy the position that Zarqawi had."

"He's the most logical one out there, as you look at that structure and how they operate, that will probably try to move into" Zarqawi's position, said Caldwell.

He added that al-Masri was born and raised in Egypt, and trained in Afghanistan. He "probably came here around 2002 into Iraq, (and) probably actually helped establish maybe the first al-Qaida cell that existed in the Baghdad area."

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