Saturday, June 10, 2006

Action, Reaction: al-Zarqawi's Death

I've been following the news of the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, with some interest. The first thing that puzzled me is that he was actually killed, not captured. Surely someone like al-Zarqawi is more useful when he can be questioned? Calling in an air strike on a target like him seems strategically clumsy. It's reported here that they opted for an air strike in case he got away, but the building he was in is repeatedly described as "isolated" - thereby making escape difficult. Hard to know without seeing the place, I suppose, and I'm not a strategist or tactician.

Second was that all the coverage, down to images on the news of Iraqi police forces dancing with large guns in their hands, was of people who were pleased.

That second one seems to be partly balancing out now, with a Jordanian Shalafi, Sheikh Jarrah Kada, who describes al-Zarqawi as a martyr. Yet, bizarrely, he's pleased al-Zarqawi is dead too, because he's now "going to heaven". I wonder how much of that point of view we're going to see reported in Western media.


At Sunday, June 11, 2006 9:20:00 p.m., Anonymous Will said...

... a few thoughts on the topic.

In theory, Al Quaeda operatives should be apprehended whenever possible, for interrogation-- in the case of Zarqawi, though, he was a figure rather than necessarily an operator. While he probably had decent operational intellegence, it wouldn't have been significantly more information than was in the materials that were collected from the bombing site. Zarqawi had stated on several occassions that he wouldn't be taken alive; there was no reason not to believe that he wouldn't try to fufill the promise, regardless of the amount of direct force applied to the raid.

The area itself was described as 'isolated', yes-- but isolation is relative in this day and age-- when you can drop a 500 pound bomb within 1/16th of an inch of its target, isolation is in the eye of the beholder.

All in all, Al-Quaeda in Mesopotamia is most affected by the trickle down of seized information in the series of raids in the days immediately after his death (56 raids and counting); furthermore, the US military has leaked judiciously that they have a source within Al Quaeda in Mesopotamia, which should add another layer to the inherent suspicion and mistrust within the mix of Jihadi factions working within the insurgency.

Short-term, it'll be a question of moving forward on the rapidly developing intellegence as quickly as possible, without giving Al-Quaeda in Mesopotamia any breathing room, for as long as possible. The death of Zarqawi won't be the end of their movement, but it can be a significant roadmark on the path to a stable Iraq


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