Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Al Qaeda in Iraq" Leader Killed

Insurgent Leader Zarqawi Killed in Iraq

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 8, 2006; 3:50 AM

BAGHDAD, June 8 -- Abu Musab Zarqawi, leader of one of the most entrenched insurgent operations in Iraq, has been killed, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Thursday.

Maliki, flanked by U.S. Gen. George Casey, who commands U.S. troops in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, announced at a hastily called news conference: ''Today Zarqawi is defeated.''

Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of Al Qaida in Iraq, has been reported injured or sick several times in the past; it has been impossible to independently confirm those reports. He last was seen in a video in early May in which he was shown fumbling with a weapon, but audiotapes bearing new messages from him were released as recently as last week.

An Interior Ministry inspector general, who refused to be identified, said an aide of Zarqawi was arrested last night in a raid by U.S. and Iraqi special-operations forces. The aide led U.S. and Iraqi officials to a site outside Baghdad, the Interior Ministry official said. After a fierce firefight, authorities entered the site and found the bodies of 13 people. The captured aide identified one as Zarqawi.

The Interior Ministry refused to say the site, but Iraqiya and Arabia TV said the raid occurred north of Baquba. Brig. Gen. Raad al-Timimi of the Interior Ministry said Thursday morning that authorities had confirmed "100 percent'' it was Zarqawi.

Original Article

While this is a victory for American forces in Iraq do keep in mind that Zarqawi never controlled all of the insurgents. There are still Bathist groups and groups with Iranian and/or Syrian sponsorship that will still be able to operate effectively. However Al Quaeda in Iraq is temporarily beheaded. The questions to ask now are who will replace Zarqawi, will he be as competent?, how long till that new leader appears?, and finally how can U.S. forces best take advantage of this?

P.S. Today is my birthday.