Fields of Jihad

The capture of a top terrorist in the Kurdish highlands may have exposed al-Qaeda's aspirations in Iraq--and has fired up the hunt for the group's regional commander

The Kurds had laid out bait for their prey. In early January, Kurdish security officials spread word in the villages along Iraq's border with Iran that one stretch of the mountainous frontier was lightly guarded and thus safe for travelers who had reason to slip unnoticed in or out of the country. Then the Kurds waited. "It was like dropping seeds for a chicken, saying 'Come, come,' and then catching it," a Kurdish official involved in the sting told TIME. It was a crisp morning in mid-January when the chicken fell into the trap.

The tall man in an open-neck...

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