Baghdad, Iraq Iraqi security forces caught terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi but released him because they didn't realize who he was, the deputy interior minister said Thursday, according to CNN.
The deputy interior minister, Hussein Kamal, said the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq was in custody sometime last year, but he wouldn't provide further details, CNN reported.
The report could not be confirmed, but a U.S. official said in Washington that American intelligence believed it was plausible. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in compliance with office policy.
There have been several reports of missed opportunities to capture al-Zarqawi, including an April 28 raid by U.S. forces acting on a tip from local informants that militants, reportedly including the terror leader, were hiding in a hospital in Ramadi.
Al-Qaida in Iraq and Iraqi officials also denied reports last month that al-Zarqawi was among those killed in a raid and gunfight in the northern city of Mosul.
Al-Zarqawi, who has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Iraq along with the kidnappings and beheadings of foreigners, has a $25 million bounty on his head.
He also drew criticism in his home country of Jordan after his insurgent group claimed responsibility for the deadly Nov. 9 attacks on hotels in Amman.