Zarqawi killed in Iraq
Iraq-USA, Politics, 6/8/2006
US President George W. Bush said today that Jordanian-born terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been killed yesterday in a precision air strike by US special operations forces in Iraq, in what he described as a "severe blow to al-Qaida and... a significant victory in the War on Terror."
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Bush described Zarqawi as "the operational commander of the terrorist movement in Iraq," who led a campaign of car bombings, assassinations, and suicide attacks against Iraqi civilians and coalition forces in Iraq.
Zarqawi also personally beheaded American hostages and other civilians in Iraq, and was responsible for violence in Jordan such as the assassination of an American diplomat and the bombing of three Amman hotels.
Bush said the persistence and determination of coalition and Iraqi forces had been rewarded after a year of near misses and false leads. "Now Zarqawi has met his end, and this violent man will never murder again," Bush said.
Today, US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad called Zarqawi the "Godfather" of sectarian violence in Iraq. He said Zarqawi "declared a civil war within Islam and a global war of civilizations. His organization has been responsible for the death of thousands of civilians in Iraq and abroad."
Zarqawi's stated aim was to foment sectarian strife between his fellow Sunni Muslims and Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority.
Khalilzad called on the leaders of Iraq's religious and ethnic communities to put an end to the civil strife and unite behind the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Bush warned that terrorists and insurgents in Iraq can be expected to continue fighting and that sectarian violence will likely continue, but he said, "The ideology of terror has lost one of its most visible and aggressive leaders."
The president congratulated Prime Minister al-Maliki on the close collaboration between coalition and Iraqi forces in the hunt for Zarqawi, as well as the prime minister's completion of his cabinet appointments.
It is not clear if his death will make him a martyr to some or will be a psychological blow to his organization. Also, the impact of Zarqawi's death on the ongoing violence in Iraq will have to be speculated upon in light of claims about the effect of previous killings on insurgent leaderships.
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