Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Killed in Iraq
Posted: June 8, 2006
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the world’s leading Islamic terrorists, was killed on June 7, 2006, in an air strike northwest of Baghdad, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.
Zarqawi, 39, masterminded hundreds of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Shias and U.S. forces in Iraq.
Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, said Zarqawi’s body had been positively identified by fingerprints and “facial recognition.” A photo of Zarqawi’s slightly bloody face was released after the air strike, which also killed seven aides, including spiritual adviser Sheik Abdul Rahman.
Al Qaeda in Iraq confirmed its leader’s death in a statement posted on the Internet and vowed to continue its “holy war.” The statement, signed by Abu Abdel-Rahman al-Iraqi, identified as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, noted the “martyrdom of the mujahed sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”
While his death could degrade the ability of his group to conduct attacks, it is not likely to end the insurgent violence in Iraq. Hours after Zarqawi’s death, a car bomb exploded in a Baghdad market, killing 12 and wounding 65.
Dozens of insurgent groups operating in Iraq, including Ansar Al-Sunnah and the Islamic Army of Iraq, have limited or no relationship with Al Qaeda. There is also no indication that the Mujahideen Shura Council, created by Al Qaeda in Iraq and five of the country’s other terrorist groups in January 2006 to unify their efforts and coordinate attacks, will cease its operations.
Zarqawi’s evolution into an Islamic militant began in 1989 when he left his hometown to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Before rising to prominence as leader of the Al Qaeda in Iraq, authorities believe Zarqawi was involved with the planning and funding of many terror attacks worldwide for almost twenty years.
As leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Zarqawi had become Iraq’s most wanted militant. The U.S. had put a $25 million bounty on him, equaling that of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, to whom Zarqawi swore allegiance in 2004.
Zarqawi himself is believed to have beheaded at least two Americans, Nicholas Berg and Eugene Armstrong, earning himself the title of “the slaughtering sheik” among his supporters.
Zarqawi’s death came six days after he issued an audiotape on the Internet, railing against Shiites in Iraq, and over a month after he released a videotape on the Internet, in which he presented himself as a strong and capable military and political leader and as an active participant in the insurgency.