Iraqi authorities have arrested the second most senior figure in al Qaeda in Iraq, the national security adviser said Sunday.
Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, was arrested a few days ago, Mouwaffak al-Rubaie said.
He was the No. 2 in al Qaeda in Iraq after slain leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Rubaie said. He was also responsible for the person who carried out the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February, he said.
"He's the second man in the organization," al-Rubaie said.
The suspect was "directly responsible for the criminal Haitham al-Badri, the mastermind and the bomber of the Samarra shrine," he added.
The bombing of the Shiite shrine in February inflamed tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims and triggered reprisal attacks that continue to this day.
"As we promised our people we will relentlessly continue our war on terror," the national security adviser said.
He said authorities had obtained information about al-Saeedi after al-Zarqawi was killed on June 7 in a U.S. airstrike north of Baghdad. The information indicated he had moved to northern Baghdad and had been operating outside Baqouba, the same area where Zarqawi was killed.
"Al-Saeedi carried out al Qaeda's policies in Iraq and the orders of the slain al-Zarqawi to incite sectarian violence in the country, through attempting to start a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis — but their wishes did not materialize," al-Rubaie added.
He said al-Saeedi also gave up information that led to the arrest or killing of 11 top al Qaeda in Iraq operatives and nine lower-level members.