U.S. military: Al-Zarqawi was alive after bombing
The U.S. military on Thursday displayed a photo of what it says is the body of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was alive when U.S. troops reached the mortally wounded terrorist leader after a U.S. bombing raid, a U.S. general told Fox News on Friday.
"We were not aware yesterday that in fact, Zarqawi was alive when U.S. forces arrived on the site," Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the spokesman for the U.S. military in Baghdad, told Fox News.
Iraqi police had arrived on the scene of Wednesday's bomb attack first and put al-Zarqawi on a stretcher, Caldwell said. The U.S. forces arrived later and identified al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. He died shortly after.
Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Sunni militant with a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, was believed to have the blood of thousands on his hands as leader of the group behind numerous beheadings, assassinations and bombings.
His end was as violent as those of his victims.
Acting on a maze of intelligence and tips, the military targeted a "safe house" in which al-Zarqawi was staying Wednesday evening. Air Force F-16 warplanes fired two 500-pound bombs on a the house, reducing it to rubble. (Watch bombing run that killed al-Zarqawi -- 2:00)
Samir al-Sumaidie, Iraq's new Ambassador to the United States, compared al-Zarqawi's life with a plague: "He wreaked havoc and he went. Good riddance."
"He headed a network of thugs and brutal killers," al-Sumaidie told CNN. Asked whether the death will end the insurgency, al-Sumaidie said, "It's not going to be overnight, but I do believe this will degrade their ability to do damage." (The road to al-Zarqawi)
The day after al-Zarqawi's death, at least 37 Iraqis died in Baghdad bombings Thursday, even as the Iraqi parliament ended a stalemate by finally naming key security ministers. (Full story)
The FBI said there is no evidence that a retaliatory strike is in the works as a result of al-Zarqawi's death, but the agency advised its agents to review ongoing probes and intelligence in the hopes of detecting any possible revenge. (Watch officials raise concern over possible retaliation -- 1:24)
Al-Zarqawi's death was confirmed on Islamist Web sites.
Tips lead to airstrike
Tips and intelligence, authorities said, helped pinpoint al-Zarqawi's whereabouts. (Map of target)
Some of that information may have come from a senior al Qaeda in Iraq figure arrested in Jordan on May 22; more came from Iraqi civilians in and around Baquba; and Special Forces troops tracking al-Zarqawi's spiritual adviser developed still more, with help in at least one instance from those inside al Qaeda in Iraq, authorities said.
Special Forces developed information that the spiritual adviser, Sheik Abd-al-Rahman, would be attending the Wednesday meeting and likely would be with al-Zarqawi, military sources told CNN. Troops were on the ground nearby watching for al-Zarqawi.
Al-Rahman "was brought to our attention by somebody from within the network of Zarqawi's," Maj. Gen. Caldwell said.
Among the five other people who died in the attack were al-Rahman, along with a woman and a child who had not yet been identified. (Watch how attacks turned nearby houses to heaps of cinder blocks -- 3:23)
Allegiance to bin Laden
Al-Zarqawi, 39, gained notoriety in February 2003, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared before the U.N. Security Council to make his case supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. (Watch how al-Zarqawi's kin feel about his death -- :20)
Al-Zarqawi was the leader of one of the nation's many insurgent factions. In October 2004, al-Zarqawi pledged his allegiance to al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, and renamed his group al Qaeda in Iraq. (Relief for bin Laden?)
Al Qaeda in Iraq was blamed for brazen terrorist attacks, including a 2003 suicide bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed the U.N. envoy to Iraq and 21 others, and the November bombing of three hotels in Amman, Jordan, in which 60 people died.
Al-Zarqawi is believed to have been involved in the abductions and beheadings of several Western hostages. In addition, the United States believes al-Zarqawi had appealed to al Qaeda for help in starting a civil war in Iraq and encouraged sectarian violence. (Watch how al-Zarqawi murdered his way to the most-wanted list -- 2:50)
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