BAGHDAD, Oct 15 (Reuters) - U.S. forces in Iraq said on Saturday that they were holding a man suspected of acting as a barber to senior al Qaeda militants and helping them change their appearance to evade capture.
The man, named as Walid Muhammad Farhan Juwar al-Zubaydi -- "aka 'The Barber'", the U.S. military statement said -- was arrested in Baghdad on Sept. 24, the day before U.S. troops caught up with and killed a militant they described as the most senior al Qaeda leader in the capital, Abu Azzam.
"'The Barber's' duties included altering senior al Qaeda in Iraq members' appearances by dying hair colour, altering hairstyles and changing facial hair in their efforts to evade capture," the military said in the statement.
Also detained on Sept. 24 was Ibrahim Muhammad Subhi Khayri al-Rihawi, the military said, naming him also as Abu Khalil and calling him a "close associate" of Abu Azzam.
"(He) served as an executive assistant for the terrorist emir. He also acted as a banker for Azzam and stored the terrorist organization's funds so they would not be confiscated should Abu Azzam be killed or captured," it added.
Abu Azzam was described by U.S. commanders after his death as second only to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the Islamist network's organisation in Iraq.
U.S. forces are keen to show progress in tracking down insurgents in Iraq after two and a half years in which the militants have inflicted thousands of casualties on Iraqi civilians and security forces and killed hundreds of Americans.