CNN reports, without laughing audibly:
Official: Al-Zarqawi caught, released
Authorities didn't realize prisoner was terrorist mastermind
Thursday, December 15, 2005 Posted: 2244 GMT (0644 HKT)
An Iraqi official says Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was caught and released last year.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi security forces caught the most wanted man in the country last year, but released him because they didn't know who he was, the Iraqi deputy minister of interior said Thursday.
Hussain Kamal confirmed that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- the al Qaeda in Iraq leader who has a $25 million bounty on his head -- was in custody at some point last year, but he wouldn't provide further details.
A U.S. official couldn't confirm the report, but said he wouldn't dismiss it.
"It is plausible," he said.
"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."