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Factbox: Facts on killed leader of al Qaeda in Iraq

(Reuters) - Iraqi and U.S. forces have killed the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq -- Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir -- in what the U.S. military said on Monday was a “potentially devastating blow” to the militant group.

Here are some facts on Masri:

* In June 2006, a statement signed by al Qaeda said the shura council of al Qaeda in Iraq “unanimously agreed on Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir to be a successor to Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” the militant group’s previous leader who was killed by U.S. forces shortly beforehand.

* The U.S. military described Masri as a close Zarqawi associate who trained in Afghanistan and formed al Qaeda’s first cell in Baghdad. He had been on a previous list of 29 militants most wanted by the U.S. military.

* A pro-government newspaper has published photographs of Masri on a poster. He was a thin figure with a goatee in a traditional Arab headdress in one photograph and glasses and a green jacket in the other.

* In late June 2006, the United States put a $5-million bounty on Masri’s head.

* In September 2006, Al Arabiya television said Iraq’s al Qaeda wing posted a video of its new leader reading a statement before the killing of a Turkish hostage. The pictures showed three masked men standing behind the seated hostage. Behind them was a black banner saying: “No God but Allah.” An accompanying statement said the al Qaeda in Iraq leader was one of the three.

* In May 2007, an audio tape was posted on the Internet purporting to come from Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Compiled by London Editorial Reference Unit