Thursday, June 08, 2006


Zarqawi Is Dead

The Beheader of Baghdad is dead at last. This evil man, whose personal contribution to human brutality was to kidnap innocent civilians and behead them, alive, on television, has himself been found and killed.

According to President Bush's statement to the press this morning:
Last night in Iraq, United States military forces killed the terrorist al-Zarqawi. At 6:15 p.m. Baghdad time, special operation forces, acting on tips and intelligence from Iraqis, confirmed Zarqawi's location, and delivered justice to the most wanted terrorist in Iraq.
The New York Times reports that it was an air raid that killed him:
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaida-linked militant who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings, kidnappings and hostage beheadings in Iraq, has been killed in a U.S. air raid north of Baghdad, Iraq's prime minister said Thursday.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said al-Zarqawi was killed along with seven aides Wednesday evening in a house 30 miles northeast of Baghdad in the volatile province of Diyala.

"Today, al-Zarqawi was eliminated," al-Maliki told a news conference, drawing loud applause from reporters as he was flanked by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.
(Of course, the New York Times then chooses to spend five paragraphs listing the occasions on which Zarqawi had narrow escapes. One can almost hear the sneer behind the words: "Finally got him, did you? Took you long enough." My favorite part was this: "His closest brush may have come in late 2004..." No, this morning was a mite closer, I'd say.)

Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show this morning interviewed Dr. Walid Phares in London, who pointedly reminded us that, to Iraqis, this is not about Bush or American politics at all -- this is the Iraqi War of Independence. And today a great victory was won in that war -- as Dr. Bennett took pains to point out, terrorist leaders with multiple victories start to think of themselves as immortal, untouchable, which of course is a great boost for their recruiting efforts and overall morale. Everyone wants to join a winner. But nobody wants to join Zarqawi, not today.

And I doubt there is anyone to take his place. Powerful, charismatic leaders don't grow on trees... and terrorist organizations as a rule don't have an orderly chain of command, so that when one commander dies, another is ready instantly to take his place. Far more frequently, you see deadly turf battles among leading terrorists, who are eager to keep the power they have and are not above using deadly violence to that end. (Why shouldn't they? Violence and terror have brought them the only success they know; why shouldn't they use it on one another?)

Nevertheless, it's important to note that the war is far from over. As Bush said shortly after 9/11, and as he repeated this morning, this will be a long, hard struggle, with many sacrifices and few tangible successes. There's a lot still left to do -- we still have Iran and Syria and North Korea and Saudi Arabia and others to contend with. But we will have our occasional victories, and this is one of them.

One thing is certain. This evil man will never behead anyone else, ever again. And for that I say: Amen.

UPDATE: Some link-rich roundups from Glenn Reynolds and Pajamas Media. Austin Bay has some wonderful analysis; Smash has a great picture. (Later: LGF has video!) Some are noting that oil prices are dropping because of the news -- well, isn't that interesting!

UPDATE II: As Pohl's Law reminds us, there's no news so important that someone somewhere won't trivialize it, and vice versa.

UPDATE III: This is a lot more important than I thought!

Zarqawi (and several others) was killed by two 500lb. bombs dropped from US Air Force F-16s. The location of the "safe house" was apparently provided by a tip from within his own organization.

After the air strikes, CoalitionForces launched 17 raids against terrorist targets in Baghdad "within hours" of identifying Zarqawi, uncovering a "treasure trove" of intelligence information. The targets were previously being exploited to track Zarqawi's movements. Now the Coalition is pushing rapidly to roll-up the al Qaeda network in Iraq.
(See here as well.)

Wow!! That's sensational news.

It stands to reason, of course, that Coalition forces would try to capitalize on Zarqawi's death. But I had no expectation that we'd see such positive results this fast.

We may just have reached a turning point, people. Stay tuned.

(Later: that was just the beginning. According to PowerLine, within one week of Zarqawi's death, Allied forces in Iraq have carried out more than 450 raids -- one third of them solely by Iraqi forces! -- resulting in the deaths of more than 100 insurgents and the capture of 750 more. Each is no doubt being treated as a source of information, just as Zarqawi was, for conducting more successful raids. What we have here is a snowball, rolling downhill and gaining speed.)

UPDATE IV: Chris Muir has a concise reply to the naysayers:

And IowaHawk has a message from the newly-departed Zarqawi: "Paradise is overrated". (Warning: it's profane, and it's hilarious.)

Oh, and Jeff Goldstein scored a post-demise interview with Zarqawi. Yes, I'm quite serious. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)


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