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Cell phone tracking helped find al-Zarqawi

U.S. military: Terrorist alive briefly after airstrike

Iraqis walk among the rubble left in the wake of the airstrike that killed al-Zarqawi and five others.


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide


Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Acts of terror

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Intelligence from cell phone technology helped U.S. forces find and kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said an Iraqi army colonel Friday in an exclusive interview with CNN.

Col. Dhiya Tamimi said he worked with U.S. forces to monitor al-Zarqawi and his associates' cell phones, helping to lead to Wednesday night's airstrike on a safe house near Baquba.

Two F-16 warplanes flew the mission, one of which fired two 500-pound bombs on the house, reducing it to rubble and killing Iraq's most wanted man and five other people. (How it went down)

Authorities also relied on intelligence from Iraqi civilians and information from al Zarqawi's terrorist network, al Qaeda in Iraq.

The U.S. military said Friday that al-Zarqawi was alive for a brief time after the strike. (Watch what new questions are being asked about al-Zarqawi's death -- 1:44)

When U.S. troops arrived at the scene, Iraq's most wanted terrorist was on a stretcher and "mumbled a little something indistinguishable", trying to move before he died, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told reporters.

"Zarqawi did survive the airstrike," Caldwell said. "We did in fact see him alive." (Watch for answers on medical care for al-Zarqawi -- 3:57)

He said al-Zarqawi did not appear to have been shot -- and although the military has done analysis of the body -- Caldwell said he was unsure whether an autopsy had been conducted. (Transcript)

Caldwell answered questions Friday after getting further briefing on the attack aftermath, and a day after he told reporters that al-Zarqawi was already dead when Iraqi security forces arrived.

"The first people on the scene were the Iraqi police," Caldwell said Friday. "They had found him and put him into some kind of gurney, stretcher ... and then American coalition forces arrived." (Map of target)

"According to the person on the ground, Zarqawi attempted to ... turn away off the stretcher," he said. "Everybody re-secured him back on to the stretcher but he died almost immediately thereafter from the wounds he had received from the airstrike."

Acting on intelligence including information from al-Zarqawi's terrorist network, U.S. forces targeted a "safe house" near Baquba in which al-Zarqawi was staying Wednesday evening. Two F-16 warplanes flew the mission and one dropped two 500-pound bombs on the house, reducing it to rubble. (Watch how al-Zarqawi's final moments unfolded -- 2:27)

Bush thanks special ops

President Bush, appearing at a news conference Friday at Camp David, Maryland, said he phoned U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal to congratulate him on finding al-Zarqawi.

McChrystal heads one of the most secret covert special operations forces in the U.S. military, called the Joint Special Operations Command.

The president offered no other details of the conversation.

"Zarqawi's death helps a lot," Bush said. "Zarqawi was [Osama] bin Laden's main advocate outside of some remote parts of the world."

"He was the person who made the declaration that it's just a matter of time for America and other democracies to leave so that they could then develop safe haven from which to launch further attacks," Bush said.

"It's not going to end the war, it's not going to stop the violence but it's going to help a lot."

Raids yield military gear

During his Baghdad briefing, Caldwell said that U.S. troops had conducted 39 overnight raids in Iraq, some of which followed up on a "treasure trove" of intelligence found in raids that took place the night before, during the al-Zarqawi attack.

Caldwell said troops found caches of "military gear and suicide gear" in the raids, including suicide vests, armament, passports, identification cards, a night observation device and Iraqi army uniforms. (The road to al-Zarqawi)

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)

FBI tests DNA

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said the agency had matched the dead man's fingerprints with al-Zarqawi's records and also would do a DNA analysis. Al-Zarqawi's death was confirmed on Islamic Web sites.

The FBI said results from DNA testing would be available as soon as Monday.

A green canvas bag carried from Iraq to FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, on Thursday contained three boxes of samples, officials said.

The FBI would not say if DNA from the samples would be compared with al-Zarqawi's DNA already on file -- or DNA from his family.

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. Powell pointed to al-Zarqawi, then believed to have been in Baghdad, as evidence that al Qaeda had a presence in 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)

CNN's Cal Perry, Jamie McIntyre, Barbara Starr, Henry Schuster and journalist Randa Habib contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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