The U.S. government has quietly reduced from $5 million to $100,000 the reward it is offering for the killing or capture of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, named by Pentagon officials as the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, according to a report Monday on

Al-Masri had been one of America’s most wanted figures in Iraq ever since his identity was revealed in 2006, according to the article on the site, which is the online version of U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. military officials have touted al-Masri’s danger ever since they revealed his identity with great fanfare at a briefing in June 2006, according to

Defense sources say that rewards have historically been reduced for a number of reasons.

"When they have reduced rewards in the past, some of the discussion has been to devalue them (the terrorists), to not hold them in such high regard," a senior defense official told

Others insist the move reflects a shift in thinking about the importance of al-Masri. "The overarching reason is his blatant ineffectiveness as a leader of AQI," another U.S. military official is reported as saying.

Iraqi authorities mistakenly announced Thursday that al-Masri had been captured in Mosul. U.S. officials said a man who was arrested had a name similar to al-Masri’s.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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