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Iraqi security forces caught insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the Fallujah area last year but released him because they didn't realize who he was, the deputy interior minister said in an interview broadcast Friday.
The deputy minister, Maj.-Gen. Hussein Kamal, told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp., that Iraqi police "suspected this man" and detained him "along with other members" of his group.
"Afterward, he was released because we did not know the identity of this criminal," Kamal told LBC. The station said the remarks were made Wednesday but were aired Friday.
"He was not armed," Kamal said. "He was like any other citizen who was suspected. There was a simple interrogation with him and he was released."
Kamal said the incident occurred "about a year ago, approximately."