Thursday, June 08, 2006
Bin Laden might find relief in al-Zarqawi's death
Osama bin Laden and his number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, would have first met Abu Musab al-Zarqawi around 1999, just after he had been released from a Jordanian jail and made his way to Afghanistan.

Al-Zarqawi went there to set up a training camp in the western part of the country for a small group of his Jordanian followers known as Tawhid, an organization that aimed to overthrow the Jordanian government.

During this period, al-Zarqawi had no wish to attack the United States, as al Qaeda's leaders had already decided to do, and his relationship with al Qaeda was as much competitive as it was cooperative.

After the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the winter of 2001, al-Zarqawi fled the country to Iran and made his way to northern Iraq sometime in 2002. He then started planning to attack American forces in what turned out to be the lead up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in April 2003.

Al-Zarqawi's group of mostly "foreign fighters" was small in number, no more than 1,500 at any time, but had an important strategic impact on the Iraq war.

It has been the foreigners who have conducted by far the largest numbers of suicide operations -- up to 90 percent -- and it is those operations that helped spark the incipient Sunni-Shia violence in Iraq. This unrest forced the United Nations and many other international organizations to withdraw from the country.

For this reason, bin Laden was delighted when in the fall of 2004 al-Zarqawi announced publicly that he was renaming his group "Al Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers," i.e. Iraq. Al-Zarqawi also pledged bayat, a religiously binding oath of allegiance to bin Laden, who he described as his emir, or prince.

So far so good as far as bin Laden was concerned. But by 2005, al Qaeda's leaders were worried that al-Zarqawi's beheadings of civilians were turning off popular support for their jihad in Iraq. Al Qaeda's leaders were also deeply concerned about al-Zarqawi's efforts to provoke a Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq.

While bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, both of whom are Sunni fundamentalists, may privately consider Shias to be heretics, they have never said this publicly. Al-Zarqawi by contrast has referred to the Shia as "scorpions" and has organized suicide operations against some of the holiest Shia sites.

The concerns of al Qaeda's leaders about al-Zarqawi­'s use of beheadings and his campaign against the Shias were underscored in a letter sent from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi that U.S. military forces discovered in Iraq last year. In the letter, al Qaeda's number two gently suggested that it was time to end the beheadings and to start acting as more of a political leader in anticipation of the eventual U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

In recent months, al-Zarqawi has stopped beheading his victims, but he has not let up in his campaign against the Shia. Upon hearing the news of al-Zarqawi's death, bin Laden and al-Zawahiri likely will release audiotapes indicating their joy that al-Zarqawi has finally received what he has always wanted -- martyrdom at the hand of the infidels.

But privately, they may hope that al-Zarqawi's successor in Iraq is more amenable to taking directions from al Qaeda central, which is located somewhere on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Viewed this way, al-Zarqawi's death could bring bin Laden some relief.
Posted By Peter Bergen, CNN Terrorism Analyst: 3:16 PM ET
  36 Comments
Hi Peter,
I certainly would not assume to be smart enough to know how to end terrorism..But today was a good day for the people of Iraq and our troops..Tomorrow is uncertain..Thank you for your great reporting, it is always excellent..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif : 3:47 PM ET
Good piece Peter.

Bu we must remember that if it wasn�t for the arrogance of President Bush and the incompetence of Rummy not of that would of happened.
Posted By Anonymous Walt from Pittsburgh : 4:00 PM ET
Hopefully we will bring the same fate to bin Laden soon. Then he can discuss his differences with al-Zarqawi as they burn with Hitler, Stalin, and the rest of hell.
Posted By Anonymous Joel - Leavenworth, KS : 4:49 PM ET
Too bad that last nights "success" in defeating one of the many fictitious leaders of al-C.I.A.-da is nothing more than smoke and mirrors from the mainstream media, as they continue to be complicit in the cover-up up of the truth surrounding the events of 9/11 and continue to ignore reporting on the true issue of our time which is the fact that 9/11 was an inside job. I can hardly wait until the U.S. Gov. stages their next false flag operation on the American people and martial law is declared courtesy of the �Un-Patriot Act�. Unfortunately Americans will get exactly what they deserve for their ignorance and lack of vigilance in hold their government accountable�
Posted By Anonymous Jeff Spink, Phoenix, AZ : 4:52 PM ET
Its interesting to me that one of the big critiques of America was that we couldn't get any of the big guys in Iraq. Yet, when we finally do nail one of them, the media immediately downplays and trivializes its importance. I'd love it if you could make up for mind, CNN.
Posted By Anonymous Alex Robinson, Columbia, SC : 4:59 PM ET
I am not a terrorism analyst for CNN, but this article is nonsense. Following Mr. Bergen's rationale, the Emperor of Japan must have felt quite relieved when he heard of Hitler's suicide in April of 1945.....
Posted By Anonymous Ernest S. Castro, Riverside, Ca. : 5:06 PM ET
Wednesday, terrorist leader Abu al-Zarquawi was killed in a U.S. Forces attack on his safe house (CNN.com).� The President again touts this as an Administration Victory.� Well, it's not.� I applaud the men and women of our armed forces who risked their lives to gather the intelligence that gave our forces the exact coordinates of al-Zarquawi's�location.� I understand that the use of force in this instance was a sure way to absolutely eliminate perhaps the largest terrorist threat in that area.��

But from a Christian standpoint, I cannot celebrate the death of anyone, no matter how much of a terrorist they are.� It is a natural human emotion to desire the death of a person who kills those you love.� It is natural to take justice and place it aside and go in for the kill.� But I will ask God for his Mercy when He has to judge Abu al-Zarquawi.� To err is human, to forgive is divine.��

It is not my place to judge that man.� As much as I want to say that his death in some way makes me more comfortable, I think that he led a terrible and miserable existance.� That's sad that he wasted his life on such evil.� So where do we go from here?��

Step one, stop praising the death of this man.� He is now a Martyr for his cause and his followers will probably view him as such.� Let us, as a Nation quietly pick up from here and try to finish what we started and end the death and fighting as soon as humanly possible.��

Step two, pray for our men and women in harms way and all of the support staff with them, and their families.� Don't gloat about death; just persevere and believe in Him.��

-Christopher R. Barnhart, 21
Altoona, Florida
Posted By Anonymous Chris Barnhart, Altoona, Florida : 5:12 PM ET
Let's hope the this will help quell some of the violence in Iraq. I don't think we should start celebrating yet. The innocent civilians, and soldiers are still in facing unimaginale conditions. Bush will inevitabley use this as another opportunity to declare victory, but this will not be possible until the people in Iraq are safe and soldires have come home. We can celebrate then.
Posted By Anonymous R. Dasani, Phoenix AZ : 5:34 PM ET
Although we have won for today, tomorrow might bring another al-Zarqawi. Our job in Iraq is not over until terrorism and the Al Qaeda are no longer a presence. Until that day, we should cheer at every positive step we take in ridding this world of terrorism.
Posted By Anonymous Rick S., Little Rock, AR : 5:39 PM ET
Hi,

this day it's Al-Zarqawi tomorrow there will be another leader this solves nothing.I'm not saying Al-Zarqawi was a good man he thit terrible things but to think this is al blow for Al-Qaeda is foolish.There will rise another leader and another and ........
Posted By Anonymous Dirk Rullens, Wagenberg, Noord Brabant, The Netherlands : 5:59 PM ET
I'm very puzzled as to why this man's face, and I'm assuming the rest of his body, is still intact? Two 500-pound bombs were dropped at the site where he was, shouldn't he be in little bits and pieces or at least burned beyond recognition?
Posted By Anonymous T. Valdez, Midway, Ky. : 7:24 PM ET
I personally feel that this war is not right. But this beast being killed allows a lot of innocent Iraqis to live. This was a monster brought to life because of the war, he was created by the war and the destroyed by the war. Good riddance. No his killing wont end the war, someone else will take his place. Fill up the dreadful vacuum he left. But it will slow down the murderers and it certainly is the first step on the long journey towards peace.
Posted By Anonymous thomas, Nashville TN : 7:25 PM ET
today is a great day; terrorists must know that one day or another they will pay the bill....no matter if Al Zarkawy successor is on the scene yet.
Giorgio, Italy.
Posted By Anonymous Giorgio, Torino, Italy : 7:35 PM ET
We have known for some time now that bin Laden and al-Zarqawi were at odds in how to further their agenda in the region. Bin Laden may be happy with the news of al-Zarqawi's death because it may allow for someone else to step up and allow for a more unified terrorist group. It's good that he's ben dealt with but that unification is something or troops and the world do not need right now.
Posted By Anonymous Randy, Scottsdale AZ : 7:40 PM ET
I like to read this kind of commentary. I am anixiously awaiting for bin Laden's reaction to al-Zawahiri death. Thanks for your input and knowledge.
Posted By Anonymous Diane Hilliard, Luray, VA. : 9:29 PM ET
The world can only be a better place today!
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Jax FL : 9:34 PM ET
I also beleive his death will bring other insurgent groups within Iraq some releif. It is well known that other groups, even some members within Zarqawis own group despised his ultra-violent extremism and that it gives the Iraqi insurgency a bad image to the mainstream population who follow the war at a moderate level; this tarnishes the image of some of the nationalist insurgents who do not use the ultra-radical tactics of Zarqawi and other extremist groups within the Shura Councel. With Zarqawi dead, this actually could give the less known insurgent groups (many of whom don't submit to the radical tactics of Zarqawi) a stronger chance to refresh the image of the insurgency to the mainstream public (especially in the muslim world) in order to boost their moral perspective and their "cause" in this war, which could in effect provide stronger support and recruiting. It is something that should not be overlooked. Zarqawis ultra-violence no longer overshadows the spotlight of other insurgent groups and they will capitalize on this.
Posted By Anonymous Micah, Seattle, WA : 10:14 PM ET
Maybe there is something wrong with me but I'm not getting the excitement that Al-Zarqawi is dead. When did we become a society that rejoiced at the death of another human being. Even Mr Berg who lost his son didn't seem to be rejoicing saying "it won't bring my son back." I don't think that this death will stop further violence. Osama bin Laden and many others are still out there.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 10:19 PM ET
"There is now a symbiotic relationship between the Islamist terrorists and the coalition of interests in Washington that has clambered aboard the "war on terror." Neither side wishes the other to triumph, but both thrive on the confrontation... neither the death of Osama bin Laden nor the fall of the neoconservatives would necessarily bring a return to normality."
--Gwynne Dyer, Future: Tense

Amen.

This will not only fail to end the dying but will only infuriate the true believers. Another marytr is born.
Posted By Anonymous Willa Slater, Edmonton, Alberta : 10:20 PM ET
Osama bin Laden could have been caught a long time ago, remember Afghanistan anyone???? Remember Osama, the person responsible for the attack on America? America never went after him with determination...America took a right (or was it a left?) turn into Iraq (can you say ILLIGAL WAR?)and forgot about Osama. As far as Al-Zawahiri's death goes...why is the government and the media blowing it up into a national victory??? There will be lines of men in Iraq or elsewhere to vie for his vacant position. If the GOP thinks for one minute that this death will turn the war around, it is sadly mistaken. Guess the GOP is reaching for anything that even smells like a victory. Although, I must admit the world is better off without the likes of Al-Zarqawi!
Posted By Anonymous Moe, Liverpool NY : 10:48 PM ET
I agree that al-zarqawi's death is a relief to Usama bin Laden. He was a Public Relations nightmare for him.

My biggest concern however is the reaction by his followers within Iraq and who will take over for him.

This was a large step for the war, but there is still a lot of work to do.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Omaha, NE : 11:03 PM ET
The whole insurgency in Iraq is not a Jihad (Holy War) as it is being performed by criminals who are blood thirsty for killing of innocents. This shows that the nonsense talk by Imans that this is Islams holy war is nothing more than a killing spree by deranged lunatics bent on spilling blood. All the Imans that talk of holy war should be rounded up and taken to The Haque for trial as they are also participants in This UNHOLY War of criminals against the Iraqi People and Coalition forces. These so-called Jihad Fighters did nothing when the Iraqi People were terroised by the Saddistic Saddam Regime, must be because they support this when its a Muslim by name only leader.
Posted By Anonymous Wade , Dhahran Saudi Arabia : 12:11 AM ET
forget about osama bin laden and all these figures. the us would not need to fight terrorism at all, or even be concerned about it, if basically they just found a way to solve the palestinian/israeli conflict...no more terrorism....bush is focusing on the wrong problem in iraq
Posted By Anonymous andy scooper, tel aviv, isreal. : 1:20 AM ET
What's the difference between the "terrorists" who distribute videos of beheadings, etc., and CNN and other news outlets displaying pictures and videos of Al-Zarqawi's bloody, battered corpse?
Posted By Anonymous Matthew, Brooklyn, NY : 6:11 AM ET
Despite the fact that there was jubilation on the death of the strong guy behind Al-Qaeda, Things don not seem to change much. There is yet bigger plot hatching up and the USA and UK may as well get the message that this is just a tip of the iceberg. There is more to come. The North African countries are linked to the terrorist group.
What are the USA, NASA and UK doing in Iraq? This is an unbelievable story.
First Saddam is toppled, and then the troops are under the pressure so they vamoose and the neighbouring country Afghanistan has the full force of NASA at the foot step.
USA and UK now do not want to move away from the Iraq. In fact the papers and media state that the American Embassy is one of the best in the world.
Is there any hope of so called democracy in Iraq? The women have left Basra are residing in the Jordan. Why? The English were very happy at one time to be with Iraqis in Basra. The scenario is changed.
Do you call this a jubilant day or the day to be more careful with all?
Posted By Anonymous Firozali A. Mulla Dar-Es-Salaam Tanzania : 7:19 AM ET
It is said that Zarqawi was betrayed by his own "men". Has anyone given thought to why? Who will be getting the reward? The person/people who betrayed him? Dear God, I hope we are not funding their terror organization.
Posted By Anonymous Nilsa, Tampa Florida : 7:30 AM ET
Al Qaeda...hypocrisy at its finest. Who cares whether or not Bin Laden is relieved by the death of Zarqawi or not?
Posted By Anonymous FB, Del Rio, Texas : 9:03 AM ET
The only way that people like Zarqawi will not be allowed to flourish in the middle-east is if there are strong governments in the middle-east. I am not particularly concerned about them being democratic governments as Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but there was no "Al Qaeda in Iraq" while he was in power.

It seems to me that the impetus towards forcing democracies on other countries is destabalizing perfectly legitamate (although sometimes evil) nations and leading towards failed nation-states like what Afghanistan was, Somalia is, and Iraq may become.

I would argue that a strong nation that we are enemies with is safer than a nation that is a breeding ground for religious-fundamentalist terrorists. At least the enemy nation probably is concerned about us nuking them, a terrorist would probably welcome the chance to become a martyr
Posted By Anonymous Michael Lowell, MA : 9:22 AM ET
Hmmm... maybe the "leaks" that came from within al Qaeda about al-Zarqawi's location were driven by bin Laden.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Fisher, Columbus, Ohio : 9:47 AM ET
I think Al Qaeda fingered Al-Zarqawi. The whole civil-war thing removed the attention from the political message that Al Qaeda preaches. And Al-Zarqawi was just a thug and murderer with no "higher" purpose to his battle than to create mayhem in a muslim country.
It is great that he is dead, but I look forward to the death of the political thinktank of Al-Qaeda. We are way off track in our fight against terrorism. No tanks or regiments will ever eradicate Al-qaeda. It is a mind-set, and we must change that by political means, while we at the same time pick the thinkers one at a time. Not nice, but necessary.
Let us get our troops home. They are not supposed to be policemen in a foreign country.

And then go do your job, 007.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Hardinger, Austin, TX : 10:00 AM ET
Who really belives this story?
Police arrive at a pile of rubble and shortly produce a dying although not to badly damaged, Zarqawi on a stretcher.
Troops who, we were told had already surronded the house, then arrived just in time to see Zarqawi move.
We are showed wonderful pictures of the evil man now destroyed.
Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
I do believe he is dead and I am not sorry for that.
I don't believe this is how it happened.
Posted By Anonymous TJ Salt Lake City : 2:23 PM ET
As I read the news on CNN.com the headlines states that "cell phone tracking helped find al-Zarqawi", how dumb is that? Perhaps we should give out other details of how we conduct surveillances or maybe we can text message them to let them know we are zooming in on there location.
Posted By Anonymous Kenny S. San Angelo, Texas : 2:34 PM ET
Watching the video of the bombing on CNN last night made me wonder why this happened this way. The house was isolated in a large palm grove. Couldn't the police and military forces just have conducted a raid, just as they did at 17 other locations, to arrest al-Zarqawi? It seems that the military had the goods on him and could have won a conviction against him. Why kill him?

The latest reason for being in Iraq is to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis and bring democracy, peace and freedom to that country. Does it make any sense then to let force of might prevail over rule of law?

The video, which seems so clear, obscures so much more than it reveals. What really happened? Who made the decision to send in an air strike and based on what intelligence? How did al-Zarqawi survive, at least for a few minutes, and what was his ultimate cause of death? Was there or was there not a child in killed in the attack. What's going on??
Posted By Anonymous Willa, Edmonton, Alberta : 6:07 PM ET
Have you noticed that liberal-minded people have mocked the military for four years for FAILING to find top terrorists, but are now dismissing the termination of Zarqawi as inconsequential?
Posted By Anonymous Tina - Chicago IL : 10:00 PM ET
I must admit that hearing the death of Al-Zarqawi that i felt somewhat peace for the individuals families whom suffered by the beheadings. Yet at the same time he is only one man, and President Bush along with his Administration are riding this as a success story. It is far from it, we have our family fighting a war which clearly D. Rumsfield doesn't intend on truely winning. Sure the big war is over, but look at how things have turned out. More innocent Iraqi's are being killed daily and more importantly are troops. I was reading an article in this pasts weekly "TIME" magazine. My jaw dropped when i read that we actually have troops walking "picking fights/battles" with the insurgents, and this on a day in and day out thing. President Bush, why not send your daughters, nieces, nephews or brother into harms way. And please don't ever repeat that our young men and women are a volunteer force and knew what joining met... be more realistic. Our troops need more men out in the field and more leadership than what they are recieving. I hate saying it, but if our country really wants things over, it is going to take more troops sweeping cities with the appropriate man power and artilery to end this war... if not we might as well assume we will have far more than 10,000 casualties by the time this ends.
To the troops i personally admire all you do for my family, yours, and i wish to GOD whom ever takes office can bring you all home, because we know Bush is turning out to be another Nixon with the Vietnam war.
Posted By Anonymous James San Antonio Texas : 10:30 PM ET
Well crafted article, Mr. Bergen.
It just makes me wrestle with the torpedo of thoughts attacking me:
Did Osama Bin Laden tip of Iraqi 'friends' to spread the word
that al-Zarqawi's usefulness has expired? If the U.S., the C.I.A. knew
through their own effort were their target was why did it take 2 500 ton
bombs to kill this dangerous hornet?
Maybe even just a fly by bin Laden's
judgement, which had become a bother
and uncontrollble? How many other
people were killed with this expensive
operation of killing this vermin of a man? You would think a special group of sharpshooters could have made President Bush and his administration
look more deserving of the laurels
coming out this kill than from what we
know so far. I have this inclination
we did the HEADQUARTER of the terrorists as much a favour by killing
their man than it gave our side the
satisfaction we are exhibiting.
Anyway, one down- many more to go.
How many men and how many years does it take to decapitate a HYDRA?
Wilelmina Dreesen Ludwig
Wilmette, Il.
Posted By Anonymous Wilhelmina Dreesen Ludwig, Wilmette, Il. : 11:46 PM ET
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