CLAIM : 'SCHEDULED FOR MATYRDOM' BY AL QAEDA
"Today Zarqawi was defeated," said the Iraqi PM, Nouri al-Maliki.
"This is a message to all those who use violence killing and devastation to disrupt life in Iraq to rethink within themselves before it is too late," he added.
PM Al-Maliki also confirmed the $25 million reward for information leading to al-Zarqawi's confirmable death or capture would be paid.
"We will meet our promise."
Early reports reveal a combination of intelligence and tip-offs from inside Iraq, and the terrorist's homeland of Jordan, revealed his location to the US and Iraqi forces.
Al-Zarawai was meeting in a house eight kilometres north of Baquba, outside of Baghdad, with at least seven other people. The US military hit the house with two 500 pound bombs, levelling what appears to be a small block of buildings. At least two women and a number of children were believed to be in the building at the time.
US General George Casey revealed : "Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his network led forces to al-Zarqawi and some of his associates...
"Iraqi police were first on the scene after the air strike, and elements of Multinational Division North, arrived shortly thereafter. Coalition forces were able to identify al-Zarqawi by fingerprint verification, facial recognition and known scars."
Early reports also claimed that al-Zarqawi survived the initial bombing, but was seriously injured, dying shortly before the MDN forces arrived on the scene.
Incredibly, StrategyPage.com predicted al-Zarqawi's death less than 24 hours before the airstrikes, with a short piece entitled 'Al-Zarqawi Scheduled For Matyrdom'.
In the piece, the writer muses that al-Zarqawi is causing big problems with mainstream Muslims by being, ahhh, too radical for even Al Qaeda - killing an unacceptable number of civilians (including the apparently ultra-controversial attacks in Jordan) and spouting conspiracy theories that the US, Iran and Shia leadership "are in cahoots to destroy Islam."
Less than a day later, the big tips of where al-Zarqawi is meeting roll in and airstrikes are launched. Now that's some pretty impressive intelligence :
Given that Zarqawi has become a loose cannon and that his actions are handicapping Al Qaeda's efforts, it seems reasonable to expect that an accident may befall him at some point in the near future.
If handled right it can be made to look like he went out in a blaze of glory fighting American troops or that he was foully murdered. Either way, al Qaeda gets rid of a problem and gains another "martyr."
Washington Post has a good story here that covers most of the early news.
There's also an interesting piece here on how al-Zarqawi 'hijacked' the Iraqi insurgency.
Statement From US Forces In Iraq :
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Coalition Forces killed al-Qaida terrorist leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants, spiritual advisor Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman, yesterday, June 7, at 6:15 p.m. in an air strike against an identified, isolated safe house."The US right wing blogosphere is already in tears that not all the media is rejoicing in the death of Zarqawi. First they complained the mainstream media focused on al-Zarqawi too much, now not enough.
Most people who don't glory in the deaths of anyone, including the most hated enemies of the 'War On Terror' understand that while Zarqawi's death is a pscyhological triumph, and a morale booster for deployed troops, it won't actually stop terrorists attacks there.
The statement from US Forces confirms exactly this :
"Al-Zarqawi’s death is a significant blow to al-Qaida and another step toward defeating terrorism in Iraq.
“Although the designated leader of al-Qaida in Iraq is now dead, the terrorist organization still poses a threat as its members will continue to try to terrorize the Iraqi people and destabilize their government as it moves toward stability and prosperity."The death of al-Zarqawi will swallow up most media headlines for the day, but it is unlikely to last far beyond that.
The story is his death, and how that death came about.
Once all those facts are known, mainstream media attention will quickly turn back to the investigations into the alleged massacres by US soldiers on Iraq civilians and the daily carnage on the streets of Baghdad.
For the record : Here is one of the first reports this morning, from ABC News America :
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expected to make an important announcement at a news conference Thursday, amid a report that al-Qaida in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have been killed, his adviser said. Al-Maliki adviser Adnan al-Kazimi told The Associated Press that he had heard a report that Jordanian terrorism master mind Abu Musabd al-Zarqawi may have been killed late Wednesday in Baghdad.
MORE BACKGROUND ON THE LIFE AND TERRORISM OF AL-ZARQAWI
From an April 26 story on this blog :
"What is coming is more painful," said Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the terrorist group al-Qa'ida in Iraq, in a new half video released on the internet yesterday.Investigative journalist Dahr Jamail went in search of al-Zarqawi last year, in his home country of Jordan.
He praised mujahedin fighters for fighting hard in Iraq : "Your mujahedin sons were able to confront the most ferocious of crusader campaigns on a Muslim state. They have stood in the face of this onslaught for three years."
He claimed : "Any government which is formed in Iraq now - whether by Shias or Zionist Kurds, or those who are dubbed Sunnis - would only be a (US) stooge."
He directed questions to US President Bush : "Why don't you tell people that your soldiers are committing suicide, taking drugs and hallucination pills to make them sleep?
He issued hard warnings : "By God, your dreams will be defeated by our blood and by our bodies. What is coming is even worse."
And he pointed out that the West was offered a truce, which was rejected outright by the US : "Our emir, Sheikh Osama bin Laden, has offered you a truce, which was good for you if you had accepted. But you turned it down, because of your arrogance."
This report confirms some of the legend of al-Zarqawi, but shattered much of the US propaganda, designed to both question the terrorist's motivations and to raise his profile to that of a 'worthy enemy', which many times seem way beyond the capacity of just one man, with a small number of followers and militants working on his behalf :
A remarkable proportion of the violence taking place in Iraq is regularly credited to the Jordanian Ahmad al-Khalayleh, better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and his al-Qaeda-linked organization in Iraq.Here's a story from 2004 by journalist Paul McGeough, easily the most comprehensive investigation into the life of al-Zarqawi to be found on the internet.
Sometimes it seems no car bomb goes off, no ambush occurs that isn't claimed in his name or attributed to him by the Bush administration. Bush and his top officials have, in fact, made good use of him, lifting his reputed feats of terrorism to epic, even mythic, proportions (much aided by various mainstream media outlets).
Zarqawi and the small army he calls Tawhid Wa'Al-Jihad have expanded their area of operations, taking control of vital thoroughfares in the capital and forcing swaths of country to be declared no-go zones for US forces. At the same time, Zarqawi wrestles with nationalist Iraqi fighters for control of the insurgency's post-Saddam agenda. American crackdowns have little success in curbing the crisis.