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Al Qaeda Mocks Reports of Zarqawi Aides' Arrests
DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq dismissed Sunday reports that top aides of its leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been arrested, saying U.S.-led forces were trying to boost low morale, according to an Internet statement.
"And who knows which aide was arrested and what lies they made up. This is a hopeless attempt on their part to raise morale," said the statement by Al Qaeda Organization for Holy War in Iraq, posted on Islamist Web sites.
"We give our brothers the good news that our leaders are absolutely fine, thank God, and leading the ranks of the faithful in battle," it said.
Iraq's government said Friday it had captured Abu Qutaybah, a key lieutenant of Zarqawi -- the Jordanian militant who is al Qaeda's leader in Iraq and has been behind some of the country's worst attacks.
Baghdad says it has captured a number of Zarqawi's aides and associates in recent weeks, with several arrested in the run-up to the Jan. 30 election. It is impossible to verify what role the detainees played in Zarqawi's network.
Zarqawi is the U.S. military's most wanted man in Iraq, with a $25 million bounty offered for information leading to his death or capture.