By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A Jordanian who killed two U.S. soldiers last month was fatally wounded in a clash with security
forces, a senior Iraqi official said Tuesday. Diyar Ismail Mahmoud, known as Abu al-Afghani, was identified as the killer
of the two soldiers, National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie told reporters.
The two soldiers' mutilated bodies were found after they were captured in a firefight near Youssifiyah,
southwest of Baghdad.
A third American was killed in the clash.
Al-Rubaie did not say when Mahmoud was wounded or died.
The bodies of two soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division were found on June 19 not far from
a checkpoint on the Euphrates river south of Baghdad where they were abducted.
The discovery of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca of Houston and Pfc. Thomas Tucker of Madras, Ore. — both of
whom were badly mutilated and at least one beheaded — came after exhaustive searches with thousands of soldiers fanning
out in an area south of Baghdad known as the "Triangle of Death" because of frequent attacks.
A third soldier, David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., was found dead at the checkpoint where the
soldiers were killed two days before.
The three were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment — the same unit as five soldiers
and one former Army private now facing charges in the alleged rape and murder of a teenage girl in Mahmoudiya last March.
The Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella of extremist groups, claimed in an Internet statement that the three
soldiers were killed last month in retaliation for the rape-murder. U.S. officials say they have no evidence to substantiate
The killing of the Americans followed the June 7 death of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. airstrike northeast of Baghdad. Mahmoud was a top al-Zarqawi lieutenant, al-Rubaie
During the news conference, al-Rubaie also said security forces detained the leaders of the Omar Brigade group,
a wing of al-Qaida in Iraq that had claimed to have carried many deadly attacks throughout the country.
He identified the group's leader as Jassim Mohammed, known as Abu Othman, his deputy Abu Aisha, who was in
charge of financing the group, and Abu Ihab, who was in charge of recruitment. The fourth was Abu Islam, who was in charge
of religious affairs, al-Rubaie said.
"The Omar Brigade is one of the death squads," al-Rubaie said, adding that the group was responsible for the
deadly bombing in Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of Sadr City on July 1 that killed 66 people.
Al-Qaida in Iraq announced last year that it had formed the Omar Brigade to fight the Shiite militias. The
group claimed to have killed many Shiite militia leaders since then.
He refused to say where they were detained for security reasons but added that the operation was carried out
by Iraqi and multinational troops.
"This is a major blow to al-Qaida itself because this is a division that was trying to drive a wedge between
Shiites and Sunnis," he said.
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified,
shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation."