The newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, which is published from London, ran a story on 19 November saying Umar Hadid, whom it identified as an associate of the Jordanian-born fugitive Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is a brother of Hamid Hadid.

On Saturday Hamid Hadid firmly denied the connection and his brother Umar told Aljazeera that the accusations were wrong.

"I am Umar Ahmad Muhammad Hadid al-Jumaili, a brother of Hamid Ahmad Muhammad Hadid al-Jumaili, director of the Aljazeera office in Baghdad", he said.

"The Saudi newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat (Middle East) published an article saying I am an assistant to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. I am 24-years old now but the article says I was in Afghanistan and went to Pakistan 10 years ago. How come I did that and I was so young?

"That is not correct and void."

Aljazeera response

Aljazeera said it regretted the fact that Al-Sharq al-Awsat published a story breaching the fundamentals of recognised professional norms that require the verification of a claim, and thereby possibly jeopardising the safety and security of a fellow journalist.

Aljazeera questioned the motive
behind the report's publication

Aljazeera has also questioned the motive behind the running of the story, and said it reserved the right to pursue the issue through legal channels.

An AFP report quoted Al-Sharq al-Awsat as describing Umar Hadid as a former bodyguard of Saddam Hussein and top aide to al-Zarqawi.

Quoting Iraqi intelligence sources, the report said Umar Hadid "led the [Falluja] battle and is the main aide of … al-Zarqawi".

The Saudi-sponsored daily said he was a bodyguard of the deposed Iraqi president some 10 years ago before travelling to Pakistan and "joining al-Qaida and training in an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan".

Hadid returned to Iraq shortly before the US-led war on Iraq in March last year, the newspaper added.