Iraqi security sources say a top leader of al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq network has managed to escape from a detention facility in the western province of al-Anbar. A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the man -- identified as Ali Farhan -- fled the anti-terrorism prison in the city of Fallujah, located roughly 69 kilometers (43 miles) west of Baghdad, on Tuesday, the Aswat al-Iraq news agency reported. He added the senior al-Qaeda had been involved in terrorist activities, and was arrested in Syria by the Interpol a few months ago. The official said police have launched a hunt for the top terrorist.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a shadowy group that was once allegedly led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi was reportedly killed in June 2006.According to US government and military officials, the group was then led by Ayyub al-Masri, who was killed along with Abu Omar al-Baghdadi -- another leader of the group -- in a joint Iraqi-US operation in Salahuddin province in April 2010. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been blamed for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the country since the US-led invasion in March 2003. MP/AS