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From the Open-Publishing Newswire
The US Already Misses Zarqawi
In the days before he was tracked down and killed by US lazer-guided bombs Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was living with almost no guards and only five companions, two of whom were women and one an eight year old girl.
US military were yesterday displaying the few tattered possessions of Zarqawi and those who died with him in the rubble of an isolated house half hidden by date palms outside the village of Hibhib in Diyala province north east of Baghdad.
The ease with which Iraqi police and US special forces were able to reach the house after the bombing without encountering hostile fire showed that Zarqawi was never the powerful guerrilla chieftain and leader of the Iraqi resistance that Washington has claimed for over three years.
Amid the broken slabs of concrete and twisted metal was a woman's leopard skin nightgown, a magazine with a picture of Franklin Roosevelt and a leaflet apparently identifying a radio station in Latafiyah which might be a potential target for attack. It is not clear how long the little group had been in the house.
Zarqawi himself was dragged dying from the ruins of his house by Iraqi police and strapped to a stretcher. "Zarqawi did in fact survive the air strike," said Maj Gen William Caldwell, the US military spokesmen. Covered in blood he survived a few minutes after the Americans arrived and muttered a few unintelligible words. "Zarqawi attempted to turn away off the stretcher,' said Gen Caldwell. "They--everybody--re-secured him back onto the stretcher, but he died almost immediately thereafter from the wounds he received from the airstrike."
The only resistance encountered by black-clad American commandos was from local Sunni villagers in the village of Ghalabiya, near Hibhib, who thought the strangers were members of a Shia death squad. Villagers who were standing guard fired into the air on seeing the commandos who in turn threw a grenade that killed five of the guards. American regular army troops later came to Ghalabiya to apologise and promise compensation to the families of the dead men.
The manner in which Zarqawi died confirms the belief that his military and political importance was always deliberately exaggerated by the US. He was a wholly obscure figure until he was denounced by US Secretary of State Colin Powell before the US Security Council on 5 February 2003. Mr Powell identified Zarqawi as the link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein though no evidence for this was ever produced.
The Strange Death of Zarqawi
By DAVE LINDORFF
Nobody's going to morn the death of Al Zarqawi, me included, but there are some important questions about how and why he died that need asking.
From the available reports on the incident, it seems clear that the U.S. knew exactly where he was, and had plenty of troops surrounding the building before they called in an airstrike and dropped (depending on the story) one or two 500-1b. bombs directly on him.
It seems like they really wanted to kill him, not capture him. There is even a witness report that when they discovered he was not dead, his US captors beat him and made sure he died of his "wounds." Whether or not that report is correct, the bombing itself was certainly meant to kill him.
Now that's mighty curious when you think about it (which not many in the mainstream media are bothering to do).
Vengeance may be sweet, but when you have the chance to catch the leader of a gang and get the kind of information about his followers that you could never hope to get any other way, you're giving up an awful lot when you blow him up. If I were a GI, a Marine, or an Iraqi Shi'ia, I'd have been much happier if he were now a captive and experiencing the tender mercies of his interrogators. who might be learning where the others are who keep trying to blow me up with IEDs and suicide bombs.
I remember thinking, and writing, the same thing when the U.S., early in this occupation, had Saddam Hussein's two sons trapped in a building and, instead of waiting them out and capturing them, with all the information they surely had about the whereabouts of the old man and of the organization of the Baathist resistance, the military blew up their house with rockets and bombs.
In Zarqawi's case, killing him with bombs meant, incidentally, the killing of an innocent little girl, aged 5-7 according to reports, and her mother and father. It could be that her parents were not so innocent (in which case sais la non vie), though we don't know that--they may have been pressured into letting him stay in their home--but the little girl who died to satisfy America's bloodlust was an innocent.
Remember, this was done on orders of an administration that claims to believe every life is precious.
In the days since the killing of Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, the official US account of the incident has repeatedly shifted. Information provided by US authorities on a number of key points is at odds with details given by witnesses and other sources, as well as the military’s own initial explanation of the events.
What is known with reasonable certainty is that Zarqawi and Sheik Abdul-Rahman, his spiritual leader, along with several other individuals, are dead following a US bombing attack just after 6 p.m. last Wednesday evening on a “safe house” outside Baqubah, some 35 miles north of Baghdad. The US dropped two 500-pound bombs on the target, leaving a 40-foot crater.
Other important details, however, are not as clear: How and when did Zarqawi die? What were the number and identities of the other casualties? Who was first on the scene after the attack? Were US forces in the vicinity before the bombings took place? The answers—or evasions—provided by US authorities on these and other issues render the credibility of their version of the events of June 7 increasingly dubious.
At a press conference the day after the raid, early Thursday morning, June 8, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that Zarqawi had been “terminated.” He was joined by Gen. George Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, who said that Zarqawi was dead when US forces arrived on the scene. Maliki said that seven of Zarqawi’s aides had also died in the attack.
At a press conference later that day, the military displayed oversized photos of the dead Islamist terrorist. The photos, while gruesome—showing Zarqawi’s head and upper body lying in a pool of blood with several lacerations to the face and blood coming from his nose—did not seem consistent with someone who had been in a house that was obliterated by a bomb attack. A new image was released later that day, showing a more battered face resting on what appeared to be a sheet.
US military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told reporters that seven had died in the attack, five men and two women, contradicting Maliki’s statements that a total of eight had died.
The next day, Friday, the US account of when Zarqawi died changed. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell now reported that “Zarqawi did in fact survive the airstrike.” He said that when Iraqi police officers arrived on the scene ahead of American soldiers, they found him badly wounded, but still alive, and strapped him to a gurney.