Contradicting statements on Zarqawi replacement
An internet statement signed by Al-Qaeda's Iraq branch denied on Thursday the group had named a deputy chief to its wounded leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "The information section of the Al-Qaeda Organization has its own media outlets known to Muslims, which is the name Abu Maisara al-Iraqi," the statement said. "We deny the claim about the appointment of one Abu Hafs or anyone else," it added.
This latest statement came shortly after another internet posting claimed the appointment of Abu Hafs al-Qarni as deputy chief of the group pending Zarqawi's recovery from his wounds.
The first statement was signed by Abu Dajjana al-Tunesi, whereas the denial was in the name of Abu Maisara al-Iraqi, who declared on Tuesday that Zarqawi had been injured.
Meanwhile, Syria's U.N. ambassador, Fayssal Mekdad, denied rumors that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may be seeking shelter in Syria, The Associated Press reported.
The Syrian envoy said his country had arrested more than 1,200 people trying to cross the border into Iraq in recent weeks. According to Mekdad, Syria suspected that the people arrested - mostly foreigners - planned to carry out attacks in Iraq so they were arrested and sent back to their own countries.