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US forces kill senior Al Qaeda in Iraq leader

Hajji Hammadi, a senior member of Al Qaeda in Iraq, was believed by US military officials to have been responsible for the abduction and murder of US Army Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin in 2004.

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An Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader believed by US officials to be responsible for one of the most notorious attacks on US soldiers was killed during American military operations earlier this month, military officials said Thursday.

Hajji Hammadi, a regional Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) leader, was shot dead by US forces in a raid in the upscale Mansour district of Baghdad on Nov. 11, according to US military spokesman Brig. Gen. David Perkins. [Editor’s note: ]

The killing, believed to have been a US special forces operation, is part of a series of American operations that have steadily eroded AQI’s command and control structure. The organization has also lost support from tens of thousands Iraqis who have turned against it and joined US forces in fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq.
But counterterrorism experts cautioned that while US operations have widely eroded AQI's ability to operate as a network, the organization was turning towards more targeted, high-profile attacks such as suicide bombings.

"Their ability to move resources around Iraq, to bring resources from outside the country, has been dramatically reduced," General Perkins told reporters.

"They now have to operate in much smaller cells, much less capable cells, so it's much more difficult for them to mount large numbers of attacks, and attacks that create large amount of casualties," he said.

Hammadi, an Iraqi, was believed by US military officials to be responsible for the abduction and murder of US Army Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin in 2004. Sergeant Maupin, an Army reservist from Ohio, was captured after his fuel convoy came under attack near Baghdad's International Airport. He later appeared in a hostage video and was reported killed. Five civilians and two other US soldiers were also believed to have died in the ambush.

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