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A suspected terrorist with al-Qaida in Iraq believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of two U.S. soldiers in June was captured Tuesday in Youssafiyah, south of Baghdad.

The suspect was captured by Iraqi army forces and coalition advisers after a video of the kidnapping was shown in a Youssafiyah mosque, according to a Multi-National Corps-Iraq news release.

The suspect, believed to be involved in numerous other kidnappings and murders in the region, commented on the kidnapping as the video was being shown, according to the release.

The suspect was seized without incident.

Pfcs. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., were seized during an attack on a checkpoint on June 16, where soldiers were guarding a canal crossing.

A massive search ensued, involving more than 8,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops, fixed-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, rescue divers and boats.

The kidnapped soldiers’ bodies, rigged with explosives, were found June 19 next to a road near the village of Mufaraji. They had been tortured, officials said.

A third soldier, Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., died in the attack on the checkpoint. All were from 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Insurgents posted an Internet video purportedly showing the kidnapped men’s mutilated bodies, accompanied by a message claiming the soldiers’ abduction and killing was in retaliation for the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and her family in March.

Six U.S. soldiers from the same unit have been charged in federal and military courts with crimes related to the incident in Mahmudiyah.


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