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by Dave Gradijan

Terrorist Zarqawi Killed in Air Strike

Jun 08, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Terrorist and al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in an American air strike north of Baghdad at 6:15 p.m. local Iraqi time on Wednesday, according to top U.S. and Iraqi officials.

Responsible for the death of thousands, Zarqawi gained infamous status worldwide for his grisly methods of terrorism, inciting insurgency and radical statements within the Islamic community. The New York Times reports that his oft-stated goal was to create a new “caliphate” in Iraq, modeled after the vast areas of the Arab world that came under strict Islamic rule within 100 years of the death of the Prophet Mohammed in the seventh century.

His body was positively identified by fingerprints, “facial recognition” and known scars, the Times reports. Seven of Zarqawi’s generals were also killed in the strike.

The announcement of his death appeared to be a breakthrough in the war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism. He had a $25 million bounty on his head and was the most wanted man in Iraq, the Times reports.

“Zarqawi was the godfather of sectarian killing in Iraq,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told reporters. “He led a civil war within Islam and a global war with civilizations.”

According to the article, the timing of Zarqawi’s death coincided with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s announcement that the government took a crucial step forward by winning Parliamentary approval of nominees for interior and defense minister.

National Public Radio reports that a general sense of relief and positive outlook are present in Iraq and its neighboring Muslim countries. Celebrations have begun and are also being planned in many Shiite Arab communities that were often targets of Zarqawi’s radical Sunni followers.

Local and foreign government officials, as well as business leaders, are looking forward to increased stability. Additionally, crude oil prices have dropped below $70 per barrel at this news of al-Zarqawi’s death.

However, the Times reports, Khalilzad also cautioned that “there will be difficult days ahead. I call on Iraq’s various communities to take responsibility for bringing sectarian violence to an end, and for all Iraqis to unite.”

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Compiled by Paul Kerstein