A mortally wounded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was still alive and mumbling after American airstrikes on his hideout and tried to get off a stretcher when he became aware of U.S. troops at the scene, a top military official said Friday. This was an extension on the initial reporting that al-Zarqawi had been killed by the Air Force strike.
Though this assassination removes from Iraq an obstacle that had been hindering the Iraqi government and U.S. military al-Zarqawi was not the main obstacle and sadly his death will not help the rebuilding of Iraq move any faster.
Iraq's new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, vowed to "build on the additional momentum gained from the death" of Zarqawi to defeat terrorism and the sectarian violence that the Jordanian fomented between the country's newly empowered Shiite Muslim majority and disaffected Sunni Muslim Arabs who form the bulk of the insurgency. On a personal note, he has demonstrated his credibility as someone who is tough on security.
This is good and clearly it al-Zarqawi’s death is a boost for the new Iraqi government.
President Bush has cautioned that while al-Zarqawi's death, while a major blow to the al-Qaeda terrorist network will not end the war. In an op-ed piece published in today's Washington Post, Maliki said his government would capitalize on the death of al-Zarqawi to "kick start extensive reconstruction," promote "genuine national reconciliation" and intensify the development of the national military and police. He also said his newly completed cabinet would launch initiatives to "secure the capital and confront the ethnic cleansing" taking place around it, strengthen the government's intelligence services, disband armed militias and "fight corruption from the top down."
Al- Zarqawi's death provides opportunities, both for the Iraqi authorities and for the insurgents. The insurgents might also use this as a chance to refocus their campaign, perhaps concentrating their fire on the security forces, and away from the attacks on civilians that al-Zarqawi pursued so cynically. That in turn could help the fractured insurgency to work together more effectively, and might also help them win more support from the Iraqi people.
Iraqis who remember the brief surge of optimism that followed the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003 will remember this, the American public and American military should take remember this too.
P.S. The death of al-Zarqawi made headlines around the world. The headline from Egypt’s Al-Ahram was most fitting.
There was no other conceivable end for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi but his killing. The man murdered hundreds of innocent Iraqis, and his organisation, al-Qaeda, spread horror and blood in Iraq as well as tears everywhere and killed innocent people in cold blood. His actions in Iraq were an extension of his criminal, terrorist activity in Jordan. This man, with both Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden, is one of the people who have afflicted Islam and Muslims with disaster. Each of them bears full responsibility for the negative picture that afflicted Muslims everywhere worldwide... The fall of Zarqawi per se will not mean the end of violence in Iraq, because he was not the only man responsible for these acts, as there are many elements and several organisations.