Friday, June 09, 2006
Al-Zarqawi: 'Eyes are everywhere'
The first time I heard Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's name was back in early 2002. I was in Amman, Jordan, meeting with members of Jordanian intelligence when a colonel there told my colleague and me that we should pay attention to this man.

Over the course of the next several months, I learned how al-Zarqawi was wanted for a plot to blow up Jordanian hotels on the eve of the millennium. Then a U.S. diplomat was assassinated in Amman and al-Zarqawi came into the frame for that.

There were so many rumors about him no one knew what was legit and what wasn't. Did he really have a fake leg as a result of a wound suffered in Afghanistan? As it turns out, no. Was he Palestinian? No, again.

And then suddenly, he was public enemy number one, starting with the bombings of the U.N. compound and Jordanian embassy in Baghdad in 2003.

CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson and I have hit a lot of places while reporting on him since that first mention in 2002: Zarqa, where his family was from; Amman, walking through the bombed-out ballrooms of hotels where his suicide bombers had slaughtered more than 50 people; in other towns in Jordan, where we talked to his friends and his enemies; on the Internet, where al-Zarqawi laid out his bloody vision of sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and where finally he showed his face in a breathtakingly egotistical video just a few weeks ago.

The riddle was how this one-time troubled young Jordanian had vaulted to worldwide prominence as an uncompromising terrorist who cut the throat of an American hostage and put the videotape of the event on the Web. In his mind, perhaps, it all made sense. Not to me.

There were missed chances, when the U.S. military failed to get him, but even he knew it was just a matter of time before he would be caught or killed.

"Eyes are everywhere," he wrote in a 2004 letter to Osama bin Laden intercepted and published by the United States. Perhaps that's why he kept his face hidden for so long, until that videotape in April.

About three weeks ago, before I left for an assignment in Afghanistan, I updated al-Zarqawi's obit. It's just one of those things you do as a journalist in case someone like him is captured or killed. Wishful thinking, perhaps. Turns out it was good timing.
Posted By Henry Schuster, CNN Senior Producer: 9:28 AM ET
  20 Comments
While Zarqawi's death will certainly not stop terrorism in Iraq, it will definitely hurt it and perhaps even drastically slow it down (one can hope). I'm extremely pleased that he was able to see his foes before he died, knowing that we had finally ended him and his reign of terror. A small vicious man at heart, though he surely deemed himself larger than life to his foes, he met the fate best deserved for fanatical terrorists. Good-bye Zarqawi, you won't be missed or long remembered.
Posted By Anonymous Tony, Minneapolis, Minnesota : 10:00 AM ET
So what ever happened to Bin Laden? Most of America even most Bush supporters really want to know. I often wonder that because of the Bush family's financial closeness to the Bin Laden family an agreement was made to allow his escape. You know "OK he is a good enemy Icon " but the family would never agree to let an infidel kill one of their own even if he has been exiled, even if Bush is a friend in finance. A "You can dethrone him but don't kill him" kind of thing . Oh, Is the admin going to read this and have me followed? Enough of the unbelievable conspiracy theory huh?
Posted By Anonymous Rebecca Cooper, Smithfield, KY : 10:32 AM ET
Al Zarqawi was a hot blooded young man with lots of time spent infront of the TV. He was careless and he paid for it. Personally I do not belive his Life is worth the white linen he will/was buried on.
Posted By Anonymous Edwin Mushene. Johannesburg. South Africa : 10:48 AM ET
What difference does it make that al-Zarqawi is dead? There will be more Muslims to rise up and take his cause. The Bush administration is treating this like a victory. They keep saying that they killed this terrorist. Yet in many Muslims eyes, the Americans are the ones being the terriorists. They have controlled oil for generations. They walk into a country, start a war for "WMDs" that we never there. Manipulate information to deceive the American people. I wonder if George Bush will ever face the war crimes tribunal for his killings of "innocent IRAQ people"? Is it okay for the US to terriorize others? I beginning to wonder that it only matters, who is the winner - who has the most force. If you have the most force then it is okay to do whatever you want. The concern now is that America is so weakened by this conflict, that they are vulnerable to other greater forces such as China, etc. America might want to consider how they are treating other countries. They are sending a message to otherf powerful countries that this is the way things are done. I believe it to be a dangerous precedent. What happens to American people if America eventually becomes a weaker nation.
Posted By Anonymous Tony Carroll, Charlottetown, PEI : 11:32 AM ET
Thank you to all U.S. military for protecting America from terrorist. America is minus one more terrorist due to Zarqawi's passing.

How can humans be so inhuman? Zarqawi's mind and motives can be compared to common murders and criminals. Worldwide prominence as an uncompromising terrorist may have been fueled by the desire for power and control. His violent behavior reinforces the idea that he was claiming a place in history as a ruthless killer. He will be in history, but history will also reflect America's retaliation.

~techie24chick
Posted By Anonymous Techie24Chick, Fort Bragg, NC : 11:32 AM ET
The depth of cowardly hatred displayed by al-Zarqawi can leave one almost speechless. His cold blooded murders of civilians by cutting off their heads, slaughtering men, women and children at a wedding celebration and gloating about his killings in the name of God and Islam is replusive. It is no wonder he aligned himself with the equally violent cowardly mass-murder bin laden. This is evil vs good, the devil vs God. These men (creatures?) create warped illusions that have no future with the true gifts God has bestowed upon the human population. Yet, God has been ready for their kind by creating Hell, and these men and their followers will join the likes of Hitler and others by burning in Hell for eternity. A just reward they deserve and will ultimately receive.
Posted By Anonymous Rich Paramus NJ : 11:34 AM ET
Maybe you should update Bin Laden's Obit.... Some more wishful thinking....
Posted By Anonymous Milena, Ft. Lauderdale, FL : 11:51 AM ET
For all of those who think that we became what we hate, allow me to explain the difference. We killed a man responsible for the deaths of innocent people. Call it justice. Al-Zarqawi is a man who would kill ANY foreigner and all nearby Iraqis. Call that evil. By "parading a picture of his body", as some people put it, we may well be fueling their rage against us, but al-Zarqawi has always enjoyed filming his decaptitations and posting them on the internet for the world to see. We're the good guys and he's the bad guy.
Posted By Anonymous Matt Taylor, Prospect, KY : 11:55 AM ET
I could be missing something here, but let me explain:

al-Zarqawi died on the stretcher...apparently. So why are all of the photos of him dead taken with the ground as the background of his head. I know, tiny detail. But what's the deal? Anybody else notice this?

`jonnyups
Posted By Anonymous JonnyUps - San Diego, CA : 2:23 PM ET
I think it's naive to believe that the concept of "hunting terrorists" is black and white. I also think that we in the West have a tendency toward what I refer to as the "Happy Ending" Syndrome; the idea that we're going to wrap-up the bad guys, bring everything to closure and move on to next week's episode. Tracking, finding and capturing or terminating terrorists is no easy or clean business. The situation with al-Zarqawi is one example of the length of time it takes to take down the more wanted individuals in this Global War on Terror. That being said, it's of no practical use considering what things we could have done better, the oppurtunties we missed or how we "should have got him sooner". It's more accurate to say, "we got when we got him" and leave it at that. I think what we're missing here is that a true terrorist doesn't consider if he/she will ever get caught or killed; they look at death as an oppurtunity for martyrdom and a furthering of their cause.

My point? Terrorism has to do with a philisophical concept or concepts, not individuals. Our goal is not to take down the persons committing the atrocities we've seen lately on a global scale, it's much greyer; the goal is to defeat the ideas these people are using to promote their movement. Then maybe we can finally have our "happy ending".....
Posted By Anonymous Tyler, Rochester, NY : 2:50 PM ET
Henry,

Where is your reporting on what AMZ what up to in Iraq before the US invasion? Now that he is dead, we may never know his connections to Saddam's regime.Was he coordinating with Saddam's regime for a post-invasion war?
Posted By Anonymous j howard Alpharetta, GA : 5:21 PM ET
Great job reporting CNN. Please keep up telling us all about all the ways we were able to track him down. The public has a need to know.
Posted By Anonymous Brian Gaffney, Portland, OR : 6:26 PM ET
Well to some people, the US is the enemy like Mr. Alexander would suggest. (Pretty Sad) However Al Zarquwi sought out to kill and terrorize only innocent civilians, he was a coward and a mass murder. Do not confuse a revolutionary with the insurgents they have no goal except to kill. They are a bunch of thugs that have been allowed to run allowed too long. I thank God for our troops and their effort in finding these creeps and putting an end to their terror.
Posted By Anonymous Rob Fitch Anchorage AK : 7:11 PM ET
I find it very perplexing that two 500 pound bombs were dropped on al-Zarqawi yet he was able to "survive" and then die with barely a scratch on him. I do wonder if he's really dead or if the government has him hidden away somewhere like they did with key Nazi's during WW2 for other motives.
Posted By Anonymous M. Wong, Van Nuys, CA : 8:43 PM ET
What is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? If I recall correctly, we didn't have any qualms about supporting a revolution against Castro, we funded the whole thing. Admittedly, WE didn't run around cutting people's heads off, but Batista did, and we supported him.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Kirkland, WA : 1:47 AM ET
To comment on all this "tracking him down" stuff, one should consider the possibility of Bin Laden putting out the word to "take him out"! I also don't understand all the martydom thinking & the journey to "paradise". Why don't they catch that train at the first opportunity? Why not drop an A-Bomb & send them all there? I for one would be happy to activate the release mechanism & send them on their happy journey.
Posted By Anonymous benjamin,Horseheads,NY : 8:05 AM ET
Are the people of the US really interested in how Al Zarquwi was killed?
It is good to know that he's gone yet the additional details of how he was spotted and ultimately killed seem like war-supporting propaganda.
It is our hope that the "how to capture/kill a terrorist" techniques are being shared with the Iraqi and other relevant governments as well. So the US troops can leave Iraq as soon as possible.
Posted By Anonymous Jose, Vernon Hills, IL : 10:46 AM ET
You'll notice that no matter what the original post topic is here on the blog, and no matter what the facts are - if the subject is Iraq - the left-wing conspiracy theories start to fly thick and fast!
Posted By Anonymous Tina - Chicago IL : 10:07 PM ET
Ok CNN..Have you had your fill of displaying AL-Zarqawi death mug shot yet? We believe you,really. He's gone...Lets not make him a martyr anymore than what he already is to his supporters. Can we move on? Next...
Posted By Anonymous Bob, Appleton WI : 7:29 AM ET
To follow up on what Benjamin asked earlier in the blog: yes, I do think it is possible that Bin Laden, or one of his aides, ordered the killing of Zarqawi. Bin Laden was implicated in the car bombing of one of his mentors when that mentor had an ideological split with him. Zarqawi was bad press for the movement--he was sent a letter from the Bin Laden camp admonishing him for killing civilian Muslims and all the beheadings. So this "tip from an insurgent" as to whom to follow to locate Zarqawi could have been from a tipster with orders from the wilds of Pakistan. This is not conspiracy theory; this is a distinct possibility as Bin Laden has little use for dissent, and Zarqawi's letter to him stating "we don't have mountains to hide in" was, if you think about it, an indirect insult. We'll see if Zarqawi's successor is as unhinged as he was. I rather doubt it, as even with all the bluster against the Shias this week, and the "we will seek vengeance" messages posted on various websites, I think US soldiers (and "collaborators") will be, very unfortunately, the primary targets instead of the traumatized Iraqi civilians, from this point forward--at least from this faction of insurgents.
Posted By Anonymous A. Blake, Kalamazoo, MI : 1:49 PM ET
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