Coalition forces acting on a tip reportedly from within his own organization leveled the safehouse outside of Baquba where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was hiding yesterday, killing the terrorist.
By his own account, al-Zarqawi is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and many Coalition forces and contractors. An acolyte of Osama bin Laden, al-Zarqawi was, to many, the face of terrorism in Iraq. This was partly the result of bin Laden’s annointment of him as chief deputy there, but more so because of his sophisticated manipulation of the media and internet. His slick campaign videos, widely distributed and broadcast by media outlets around the world, depicted al-Zarqawi as a hands-on, stealthy military leader; but clearly, he was not a tactical genius. His greatest victories were public relation coups that catapulted him into the role of figurehead for terrorists. Our courageous friends in Jordan, who have also suffered at the hands of al-Zarqawi, are said to have aided in his destruction.
His death will not likely fracture the terror campaign in Iraq because of the disparity of the insurgency itself, comprised of many distinct and disjointed elements, not all of whom were following al-Zarqawi.
Nevertheless, this is an important victory in the GWOT showing that persistent effort can and will produce definitive results. But al-Zarqawi was largely a media-produced terror hero. Now that he is gone, let us not produce another.