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Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

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. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Zarqawi's influence had increased substantially among radical jihadists, and he was considered by many experts to be a terrorist of equal stature to Osama Bin Laden.
Zarqawi's Pre-Iraq Terror Activities

Timeline of Major Terrorist Attacks in Iraq
2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003


Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was considered one of the world’s leading Islamic terrorist organizers. His organization, Al Qaeda Group of Jihad in Iraq (formerly al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad), is believed to have planned and launched major terror attacks in Jordan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Germany and Iraq, where Zarqawi is credited with personally beheading several hostages and organizing attacks against American and coalition troops. Authorities believe that in 2000, Zarqawi also set up camps in Afghanistan for training in the use of chemical weapons. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Zarqawi's influence increased substantially among radical jihadists. Before his death on June 7, 2006, he was considered by many experts to be a terrorist of equal stature to Osama Bin Laden.


Zarqawi, descended from the Bedouin Beni Hassan tribe, was born in 1966 into a lower-class family. He grew up in Zarqa, Jordan, a crime-ridden and industrial city. At 17, Zarqawi dropped out of school. He lived roughly and was jailed for sexual assault, according to Jordanian intelligence reports.

In 1989, Zarqawi's evolution into an Islamic militant began when, in search of direction, he left his hometown to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He arrived as the Russians were pulling out and became a journalist for a small jihadi magazine, interviewing those who had fought against the Russians. Zarqawi later told family members that during this time he dreamed he saw falling from the sky a sword inscribed with the word "jihad" and a verse from the Qur'an. Zarqawi interpreted this as a sign that Allah had specially selected him.

In 1992, Zarqawi left Afghanistan and returned to Zarqa. He was purportedly alienated by the relatively liberalizing influx of Palestinians, who had emigrated there in large numbers from the Gulf States the year before. Zarqawi became a member of the militant Islamic organization Bayaat al-Imam, whose goal was to install an Islamic caliphate - a government based on Islamic law - in Jordan.

In 1993, Zarqawi was arrested by Jordanian authorities after they discovered assault rifles and bombs in his house. He was convicted and sent to Swaqa prison, where his Islamist views deepened through extensive reading and memorization of the Qur'an and conversation with Salafist imams, including the radical Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi. Zarqawi quickly rose to a position of prominence among his fellow prisoners and his religious views became increasingly extreme.

After he was released from prison in 1999 under an amnesty from the Jordanian government, Zarqawi relocated to Peshawar, Pakistan, to live with his ill mother. While in Pakistan, he was named a suspect in a foiled terror attack against Christian sites in Jordan. This charge, coupled with the death of his mother, drove Zarqawi to return to Afghanistan and open a weapons training camp.

Zarqawi's Pre-Iraq Terror Activities

Before rising to prominence as leader of the al-Qaeda Group of Jihad in Iraq, authorities believe Zarqawi was involved with the planning and funding of many terror attacks worldwide for almost twenty years. In the late 1980s, Zarqawi left Jordan for Afghanistan, where he fought against the Soviets and met Osama Bin Laden as well as many other Islamic militants. In 1991, he returned to Jordan from Afghanistan; the following year he was jailed for conspiring to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy and install an Islamic caliphate. In March 1999 he fled to Pakistan after being granted amnesty.

Terrorist background
  • April 2004: Jordanian security services foiled a plot to use chemical weapons in an attack by Kata'eb al-Tawhid against the Jordanian prime minister, the secret service agency, the U.S. Embassy in Jordan and other sites.

  • October 28, 2002: Zarqawi provided financing and material support for the assassination of Laurence Foley, a diplomat with the U.S. Agency for International Development, by Salem Sa'ed Salem bin Suweid and Yasser Fathi Ibraheem.

  • 2001: Zarqawi fled Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion. He moved to Iraq, where he joined Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish terrorist group.

  • September 2001: Members of Zarqawi's Kata'eb al-Tawhid, a Jordanian terrorist organization, formed a cell in Germany. Zarqawi instructed them to target Jewish and Israeli facilities throughout Germany.

  • 2000: Established a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan that allegedly specialized in the use of chemical and biological weapons. A trainee claimed Zarqawi's goal was to "kill Jews everywhere."

Timeline of Major Terrorist Attacks in Iraq

Responsibility for the following attacks has either been claimed by the group or attributed to it by authorities:

  • January 6: Killed at least 70 and wounded 30 in suicide bombing in Ramadi.

  • December 6: Killed 43 and wounded over 70 in suicide bombing at the police academy in Baghdad.

  • November 9: Killed 58 and wounded over 96 in a coordinated suicide bombing at three Amman, Jordan hotels.

  • July 29: Killed 52 and wounded 57 in suicide bombing on Iraqi army recruits in Rabia.

  • July 16: Killed at least 98 and wounded at least 82 as a suicide car bomber struck at fuel tanker truck in Musayyib.

  • July 2: Kidnapped Ihab al-Sherif, the Egyptian envoy to Iraq; he was later executed.

  • April 29: Killed up to 50 in a wave of suicide bombings across Iraq.

  • April 4: Wounded 57, including 44 American soldiers, in a guerilla attack and suicide bombing at Abu Ghraib prison.

  • February 28: Killed at least 125 people and wounded 170 in suicide bombing in Hilla.

  • October 24: Murdered 49 Iraqi police recruits, execution-style, at a false checkpoint near Baghdad.

  • June 24: Killed more than 100, including three U.S. soldiers, and injured 320 in coordinated series of attacks on security forces in Baghdad, Baquba, Mosul, Falluja and Ramadi.

  • May 17: Killed Iraqi Governing Council President Izzedin Salim in suicide attack.

  • April/May, 2004: Beheaded Nicholas Berg (Zarqawi himself).

  • February 10-11: Killed 100 with pair of car bombs at police station and recruiting center.

  • October 27: Killed 35 and wounded 220 with four car bombs, which destroyed three police stations and Red Cross Headquarters in Baghdad

  • Aug 19: Killed U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others in truck bombing at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Killed in Iraq

Zarqawi: The Resurgence of an Al Qaeda Leader

Terrorist Groups Use Distinct Symbols To Convey Their Ideology And Goals.

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