Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

June 8, 2006

Breaking News: Al-Zarqawi Killed

He's finally dead:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, has been killed in a US airstrike, it was announced today.

Zarqawi, an iconic figure who acted as the axis of foreign insurgent operations against the Iraqi government and coalition forces, died in a military operation last night that targeted a house north-east of Baghdad.

News of his death was announced at around 8.30am today by the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and was greeted by rapturous applause from his audience.

"Today, Zarqawi was eliminated," he said.

Mr Maliki said Zarqawi and seven aides were killed last night in a house 30 miles north-east of Baghdad, in the volatile province of Diyala.
Al-Maliki was joined by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and the top U.S. Commander in Iraq General George Casey who said in a statement:

“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.

“Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his network led forces to al-Zarqawi and some of his associates who were conducting a meeting approximately eight kilometers north of Baqubah when the air strike was launched.

“Iraqi police were first on the scene after the air strike, and elements of Multi-National Division North, arrived shortly thereafter. Coalition Forces were able to identify al-Zarqawi by fingerprint verification, facial recognition and known scars.
Zarqawi's body was identified via fingerprints, facial recognition and known scars. He was rumored to wear an explosive belt, but no mention of that in reports.

The U.S. and Iraqi forces certainly deserve kudos for the operation. If there's anyone in Iraq who deserved to die, Zarqawi was it.

The Jerusalem Post reports the Jordanians provided information that helped in tracking and killing the terrorist.

Al-Jazeera's take, including reports of the American troops' close encounters with Zarqawi.

Meanwhile, oil falls to $70 a barrel on the news of Zarqawi's death.

Tony Blair called Zarqawi's death "a very important moment for Iraq and a blow to al Qaeda everywhere".

Blog reaction was mostly jubilant, but as Oliver Willis pointed out, his death is not the magic wand that would suddenly make the Iraqi civil war go away:

Of course, leave it to Fox to take it one step too far. According to the anchor on Fox, the apparent death of Zarqawi will unite all the Iraqi factions, bring peace to the land, etc. Come on.
Zarqawi's death is good in that Iraqis at least don't have to worry about him sowing terror anymore. But terrorist cells are like nine-headed monsters: you cut off one and it still operates with the others. Even worse, a new head grows in its place.

Also, Larry Johnson astutely pointed out:

The sad truth is that we are not fighting an effective counter insurgency campaign. We treat the threat as simply a terrorist threat and hope that if we kill enough of Zarqawi’s leaders and followers that the violence will subside. That was the belief 15 months ago. Since then our forces have carried out many dramatic and effective counter terrorist operations. Yet, as of June 2006, the number of attacks continue to increase. The trend line is up and the victims tend to be the average Iraqis that healthy communities rely on to rebuild public order.

The death of Zarqawi,if true, is welcome news. However, as with the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein, his death is not likely to bring a fundamental change in the violence now unleashed in Iraq.

posted at 3:30 AM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
(Dare to Know)
-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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