BAGHDAD - A video showing the execution of Syrian truck drivers in western Iraq has revived fears of Al-Qaeda-controlled bastions along the route, this time with a new face to the militancy.
The highway cutting through Anbar province and connecting Baghdad to neighbours Jordan and Syria was long considered one of the most dangerous in Iraq, with the vast adjoining desert providing refuge for militants, including groups linked to Al-Qaeda.
But those fears had eased in recent years.
As violence has worsened nationwide to levels not seen since 2008, though, and amid fears neighbouring Syria's conflict is spilling over into Iraq, the cold-blooded killing of the truck drivers has brought back memories of the country's brutal all-out sectarian war in 2006 and 2007.
Then the name Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq at the time, sparked widespread fear, but this time an online video depicting the murders puts a new name to the violence: Shaker Wahiyib al-Fahdawi.
"He is the only one who kills without covering his face, and is working on declaring an Islamic state," said Colonel Yassin Dwaij, head of Anbar province's police intelligence.
"He is dangerous and cunning."
The video, posted online on August 25, depicts the events of a June 2 attack. At the time, AFP sources said militants killed three truck drivers and set their trucks ablaze along the Anbar highway.