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BAGHDAD (AP) - The highest-ranking Iraqi leader of al-Qaida in Iraq has been arrested and told interrogators that Osama bin Laden's inner circle wields considerable influence over the Iraqi group, the U.S. command said Wednesday.
Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, who was captured in Mosul on July 4, carried messages from bin Laden, and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, to the Egyptian-born head of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayub al-Masri, said Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner.
Some have suggested that linking al-Qaida in Iraq to bin Laden is simply an attempt to justify the Iraq war as an extension of the global conflict that began with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
But the U.S. military has insisted that there are links between the local al-Qaida group and the bin Laden clique and has released captured letters from time to time, suggesting the foreign-based leaders provide at least broad direction.
Bergner said al-Mashhadani had told interrogators that al-Qaida leaders outside the country "continue to provide directions, they continue to provide a focus for operations, they continue to flow foreign fighters into Iraq."
Iraqi oil production could double in five years, according to a new study.
The report found that Iraq's oil reserves may be almost twice as much as previously estimated. The study by the U.S. consultancy IHS said another 100 billion barrels of oil reserves could be found in Iraq.
IHS said the estimate would rank Iraq as having the second largest reserves in the world, following Saudi Arabia. Currently, Iran has the second largest oil reserves in the world.