Abu Musab al Zarqawi

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Abu Musab al Zarqawi, "named as the link between Iraq and al Qaeda" and "thought to be one of Osama bin Laden's chief supporters" [1], was "killed in a joint U.S. and Iraqi military raid north of Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced" June 8, 2006. [2]

Background

"The first high-level Bush administration references to Zarqawi came in October 2002 when President Bush, in a speech in Cincinnati, laid out the case against Saddam [Hussein]’s regime by emphasizing what he described as 'high-level contacts' between the Iraqi government and Al Qaeda. One prominent example cited by the president was the fact that 'one very senior Al Qaeda leader [had] ... received medical treatment in Baghdad this year'-—a reference to Zarqawi. Then, in his February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell described Zarqawi as 'an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants.'" --Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, June 23, 2004.

Zarqawi Myth?

The BBC profile of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi describes him as "Iraq's most notorious insurgent - a shadowy figure associated with spectacular bombings, assassinations and the beheading of foreign hostages."

Jennifer Schultz reported in November 2005 that terrorism expert Loretta Napoleoni asserts that:

  • The United States created the myth around Iraq insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and reality followed.
  • The myth of al-Zarqawi helped usher in al-Qaida's "transformation from a small elitist vanguard to a mass movement."

In October 2004, Steve Weissman described Zarqawi as being "the Jordanian leader of 'Monotheism and Holy War,' alleged beheader of Western hostages in Iraq, and the U.S. target of choice in and around embattled Fallujah." Weissman then asked whether "Zarqawi's freshly proclaimed allegiance of 'to the chief of all fighters, Osama bin Laden' boost Mr. Bush's election chances, giving the president what he could never before find - a pack of genuine, if newly rebranded, al Qaida terrorists to kill or capture in Iraq?

"Or, will the news highlight all the cock-and-bull that Bush, Cheney, and Powell previously told us about Zarqawi, showing voters yet again how the war in Iraq only makes the terrorists stronger and more united?"

"My problem is that you've got two stories made up of three elements: government PR, anonymous sources, and analysts from various think tanks, universities and previous administrations who are essentially speculating — and each story draws a different conclusion. How is the average news consumer supposed to know which story is more accurate?" --Stephen Spruiell, National Review, September 27, 2005.

Al-Ahram reported in June 2006 that "Zarqawi was no more than 'a US-made myth to plant the seeds of sectarianism.' Such views reflect a common understanding among Iraqis that Zarqawi's role was much inflated by Washington over the past three years to cover-up atrocities committed by US-led occupation forces in Iraq."

Arrest Warrant

On February 11, 2005, U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida gave notice that the Iraqi Interim Government had issued "warrants for the arrest of 29 individuals who are either members of the Former Regime or part of the Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi terrorist network," including Zarqawi himself:

"Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi (aka AMZ) - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a grave threat to the Iraqi people, and in September [2004] he announced the merger of his terrorists with al-Qaida. Al-Zarqawi’s foreign terrorists and criminals are undermining Iraq’s security and have brutally killed over 500 Iraqis in the last year. They continue to target Iraqi government and civilian targets with the intent of inciting a civil war. His terrorist network has attempted to destroy police stations, recruitment centers, oil and humanitarian workers and those laboring to build a new Iraq. Zarqawi’s criminal activities are also slowing the flow of humanitarian aid into Iraq and undermining reconstruction efforts. He has fled Fallujah during OPERATION AL FAJR. Multi National Forces in Iraq are offering a reward of $25 million for information leading to the capture of Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi."

Saddam on "lookout" for Zarqawi

On March 16, 2006, the Associated Press's John Solomon reported on "Iraqi documents collected by U.S. intelligence during the Iraq war and released by the Bush administration [which] show Saddam Hussein's regime was investigating 'rumors' that 3,000 Iraqis and Saudis had traveled unofficially to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks to fight U.S. troops."

Within the set of declassified Iraqi government documents, which were posted on the Pentagon's website, was a "letter from an Iraqi intelligence official, dated August 17, 2002, [asking] agents in the country to be on the lookout for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and another unnamed man whose picture was attached," Solomon wrote.

"The letter said there were reports the two could be in Iraq and directed Iraqi security officials to be on the alert as a matter of 'top priority.'

"Attached were three responses in which agents said there was no evidence al-Zarqawi or the other man were in Iraq."

The Pentagon website also "cautioned that the U.S. government 'has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available'," Solomon wrote.

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