The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Zarqawi killed!

News are circulating, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Mus3ab al-Zarqawi was killed, together with seven of his aides, in a US air raid north of Ba3qouba.

One of the US pre-war myths, used to support the illegal invasion of Iraq was that Jordanian-born Zarqawi, was the link between Al-Qaeda and Saddam regime. As we all know, this turned out to be another Bush lie.

Zarqawi only joined Al-Qaeda one year and half after the war on Iraq. Zarqawi did NOT give allegiance to Osama Bin Laden, when the former was in Afghanistan, or even when he fled to Iraq following the US-onslaught on Hirat, where his camp was. Zarqawi operated independently from Bin Laden, under the name Tawhid wal Jihad. Zarqawi changed the name of his group to Al-Qaeda in Mesopotimia, when he pledged allegiance to Osama in October 2004.

It was clear there was friction within his group, which was increasingly Iraq-ized. The Mujehdin Shoura Council was announced around six months ago, headed by Abdul-Rashid Al-Baghdadi, while Zarqawi became in charge of the military operations solely, leaving the "politics" to al-Baghdadi.

Al-Jazeera announced in the afternoon that Al-Qaeda confirmed Zarqawi's killing in an internet statement. King Abdullah II of Jordan's security services also arrested Al-Jazeera correspondent in Amman, together with Zarqawi's brother-in-law, during a live interview with the latter. It was bizarre seeing Yasser Abu Hilala, Al-Jazeera correspondent, being surrounded by plainclothes security, who blacked out his camera, and then you could only hear his voice shouting the brother in law was arrested.. moments later you hear him again saying, they were also being taken.

Zarqawi's elimination constitutes a strong blow to the militant network in Iraq. But by no means, this will be the end of it. Al-Qaeda's sympathizers in Iraq who fought along side Zarqawi may have been largely foreign (non-Iraqi Arabs and Muslims), but observers who follow the group suggest there was a strong Iraq-ization process, whereby recruitment efforts on the local level was given an exponential boost, especially as this matrix of chaos in Iraq descending to a brutal sectarian conflict. Sunni tribes sure made benefit of Zarqawi, as an ally against the Shittes.