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Interview With Iraqi Ambassador to United States Samir Al- Sumaidaie; Who Was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?

Aired June 8, 2006 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. We appreciate your being with us on one of the biggest news days of the year, a day when one of the world's most wanted terrorists has finally been eliminated.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with his followers, claimed responsibility for the deaths of at least 669 people. And he actually may have had the blood of thousands on his hands. This hour, I will have the fascinating story of how he was tracked down and killed and what his death could mean to all of us.

Before we go in depth, let's recap today's rush of developments. Al-Zarqawi and at least five others were killed late yesterday, when their safe house was hit by a pair of 500-pound bombs dropped by U.S. jets.

The announcement, made early this morning by the top U.S. general in Iraq and the country's new prime minister, set off a wave of jubilation.

A little bit later, the military released photographs of al- Zarqawi's body. The FBI says it matched his fingerprints. They say there is no room for doubt, but DNA tests will be done anyway.

And, at the White House, President Bush called al-Zarqawi a violent man who will never murder again. He congratulated the military forces that -- quote -- "delivered justice."

And we're told that follow-up raids around Iraq today collected a tremendous amount of information and intelligence. U.S. commanders call it a treasure trove.

However, there was no end to the violence today. Insurgent attacks killed at least 37 people and wounded 82.

At 6:15 p.m. Iraq time yesterday, al-Zarqawi is Baquba, northeast of Baghdad -- in the air, American fighter jets, below, al-Zarqawi in a house surrounded by trees. He was meeting with associates, including the man who was his deputy and spiritual adviser.

Then, American airpower struck. It was the end of a hunt that had lasted years, but grew increasingly intense over the last two weeks.

Here's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre on how U.S. forces finally caught up with al-Zarqawi.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was late afternoon, and two U.S. Air Force F-16Cs like these were on routine patrol over Iraq when their radios crackled with urgent new orders. The pilots were vectored to Baquba and given coordinates for a single isolated house nestled in a palm and fig grove eight clicks to the north.

At 6:15 p.m., one of the F-16s dropped two 500-pound bombs, one laser-guided, the other satellite-guided, after being told to make sure to take out the house in a way that would ensure a HVT, a high- value target, inside would be killed.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: We had absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Zarqawi was in the house. It was 100 percent confirmation.

MCINTYRE: Why so sure? Pentagon sources say U.S. special operations troops had the house under surveillance and knew Zarqawi's location every minute. So sure were they, that the F-16s were told it was not a time-sensitive target, so they could take their time.

Sources say their bombs glided to the target from several miles away, so Zarqawi wouldn't hear the planes and be tipped off. An Air Force commander says the rubble tells the story of why two 500-pound bombs were needed. The safe house was a solidly-built structure made of reinforced concrete. The second bomb was to ensure the blast killed anyone inside the building.

At least six people were killed, including Zarqawi, a man described as his spiritual adviser, and a woman and a child, possibly family members.

GENERAL GEORGE CASEY, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE IN IRAQ: We have been able to identify Zarqawi through fingerprint verification, facial recognition, and known scars.

MCINTYRE: As soon as that was confirmed, U.S. and Iraqi forces raided 17 locations in and around Baghdad that had been under surveillance for weeks.

CALDWELL: And, in those 17 raids last night, a tremendous amount of information and intelligence was collected and is presently being exploited and utilized for further use. It was -- I mean, it was a treasure trove.


MCINTYRE: And intelligence is the key to finding an individual in a place as big as Iraq. General George Casey, the top commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, said today that tips and intelligence from inside Zarqawi's network, senior leaders, he said, led to Zarqawi's demise -- Paula.

ZAHN: Do we know tonight specifically who tipped off the military? MCINTYRE: No, we don't.

And one of the interesting questions is, will that $25 million reward be paid? If it from -- if the information came from a captured terrorist in an interrogation, they won't be paying the money. But if it came from a mole inside Zarqawi's network, they won't acknowledge who they paid the money to.

And, obviously, they don't want to compromise these sources. They are planning to use some of that intelligence they got in the raids to continue to push against the insurgents -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jamie McIntyre, thanks for the update.

Al-Zarqawi's death was joyous news for Iraq's new government.

And, a little bit earlier on, I spoke with Iraq's new ambassador to the U.S., Samir Al-Sumaidaie.


ZAHN: Ambassador Sumaidaie, thank you so much for joining us.

What is the importance of al-Zarqawi's death, both militarily and symbolically?


He headed a network of thugs and -- and brutal killers, who wreaked havoc throughout Iraq. Now, by removing him from the scene, we have dealt a blow to their capacity to -- to al Qaeda's capacity to do more damage. That will be certainly degraded.

ZAHN: Mr. Ambassador, you have just talked about the so-called network of thugs that followed Zarqawi. What message does his killing send to them?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: Well, it sends to them that we are after them and we will eventually prevail and clean -- cleanse Iraq from this scourge.

ZAHN: That can take some time.


ZAHN: In the meantime, what impact does this have on the insurgency movement? Will we see less civilians killed?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: Well, it's not going to be overnight, but I do believe that this will degrade their ability -- their ability to do damage. It will -- it will take out a component of the insurgency.

ZAHN: Does the death of Zarqawi mean that U.S. forces can be drawn down any quicker? AL-SUMAIDAIE: Well, obviously, the sooner we get rid of these acts of violence and -- and restore security, the sooner the American forces can return home. This event, which took place yesterday, must be in that direction. It must be accelerating that day.

ZAHN: You talk about accelerating that day. Your prime minister had said that he hoped to get all U.S. troops out of Iraq within the next 18 months. Could it move even faster than that now?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: It is possible. It is very hard to look in a crystal ball and see how things go.

But we are moving forward. And I think it is very difficult for us to put dates for specific actions. But as long as we keep moving in this direction, I think we will do OK.

ZAHN: Mr. Ambassador, I know you have said al-Zarqawi was the embodiment of evil. You have compared him to Hitler. How do you think Iraqi history books will view him?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: Well, Iraq, over the centuries, suffered many ups and downs and -- and -- and plagues. He was -- I -- he can be compared to one of those plagues. We -- he came. He wreaked havoc. And he went. Good riddance.


ZAHN: So, Iraq's ambassador to the U.S. says al-Zarqawi's death will strike a blow to the insurgency.

But no one tonight is saying that his death will end it. Just look at today's death toll, 37 people killed in bombings in Iraq.

John Vause has been looking into the future of the insurgency now that al-Zarqawi is out of the picture.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the prime minister announced the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a room packed full of reporters, most Iraqis, broke into cheers and applause.

The man hated and feared by so many here and around the region had been -- quote -- "eliminated." He led foreign insurgents on a bloody campaign for more than two years, brutal, even by Iraqi standards -- his goal, to foster a sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.

"Now we have finish with Zarqawi, we will get rid of all the terrorists. And may God protect Iraq," says this woman.

Zarqawi and his loyal following of foreign fanatics have been responsible for only a fraction of the daily violence in Iraq. But U.S. officials hope the death of Iraq's most wanted man will mean fewer civilian casualties. CALDWELL: He wasn't interested in going after coalition forces, by what he said himself. He was -- he was just interested in killing people.

VAUSE: For Zarqawi, nothing was sacred. An attack on a Shiite mosque in Samarra in February sparked a wave of riots which left more than 100 dead and threatened to push Iraq into a civil war.

As some Iraqi policemen celebrated the news, many others, worn down by three long years of violence, are hoping this could be a turning point.

"We congratulate the Iraqi government and the prime minister on the death of Zarqawi. And, God willing, this will be the end of all terrorists."

But there were words of caution as well.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: The change in the level of violence is not going to be immediate. It's -- there are going to be difficult days ahead. There are a lot of forces involved in violence.

VAUSE: In the hours following Zarqawi's death, at least 37 Iraqis were killed in five separate explosions in Baghdad alone. And the Iraqi government is now bracing for retaliatory attacks.


VAUSE: And the Interior Ministry here has announced a four-hour vehicle ban in the capital and also around the city of Baquba, not far from where Zarqawi was killed. This will coincide with Friday prayers, which start in just a few hours from now -- Paula.

ZAHN: John, we have said a number of times on the show tonight this is a man responsible for hundreds of deaths, if not thousands. How was he able to maneuver the way he did?

VAUSE: That really is one of the great mysteries, how this man, who, in a previous life in Jordan, was essentially just a street thug, managed to evade capture and also managed to inspire hundreds to fight by his side and also die in some of the most violent circumstances.

A clue to this could be his call for establishing a strict Islamic state across the Middle East. That seemed to inspire many jihadists from around the world to come and fight by Zarqawi's side.

And, also, for Zarqawi, after being released from a Jordanian prison in 1999, when he went and trained in Afghanistan, all the chips fell into place, 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and then the war here in Iraq -- Paula.

ZAHN: John Vause, thanks so much.

And joining me now is someone who writes about al-Zarqawi in a brand new book, "Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy." Fawaz Gerges is an expert on Middle Eastern studies at Sarah Lawrence College.

Always good to see you, Professor.

What fueled Zarqawi's rage?


But I think Zarqawi came to militancy and religion late in life, after flirting with criminal activities. But, if there is or there was one particular factor that really shaped his character and conduct, it was his prison experience. He spent several years in Jordanian prisons.

ZAHN: Where he was brutalized himself.

GERGES: And tortured.

And, according to some of his associates, some of whom I interviewed, basically, that really fueled his rage and anger. He wanted to basically exact revenge against the secular, decadent pro- American order.

ZAHN: But when he exacted his revenge, it seems to me, killing wasn't enough. He needed to terrorize, too. Why was it necessary for him not only to plant bombs, but participate in the beheading of some of his victims?

GERGES: Paula, remember, he was engaged in a global fight against the American armada that occupies an Arab and Muslim country.

He not only wanted to kill. He wanted to brutalize and terrorize and really force the Americans out of Iraq. And, also, from day one, he wanted to instigate a sectarian strife. And regardless of what you think of this particularly criminal -- I mean, his legacy -- I mean, look at Iraq today. He almost single-handedly brought Iraq to the brink of full sectarian strife.

ZAHN: An uneducated thug.

GERGES: And, in fact, I have written extensively on this particular third generation. Even al Qaeda generation, even Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Makdisi (ph), his mentors, were shocked by the brutal methods basically exercised by al-Zarqawi. And this really explains this conduct and behavior of what I call the third generation, the al-Zarqawi generation in Iraq.

ZAHN: And you examine in great depth the brutality of his murders. What was the most heinous thing that you discovered in your research about this man?

GERGES: Well, of course -- of course, beheading was awful.

But I think, remember, Zarqawi not only killed Americans and foreigners. He killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. He basically gave orders for suicide bombers to drive their trucks, buses and cars into crowds of Iraqi civilians, children, women. I mean, he -- we -- we tend to forget his main victims were Iraqis.

Yes, he killed Americans. He killed coalition forces. He lost the fight in Iraq. He not only antagonized, I mean, Shia public opinion. He antagonized Sunni public opinion. The tip for the American intelligence services came from a leading Sunni insurgents. By alienating Sunni public opinion, which is leading the insurgency, basically, he committed the ultimate suicide.

ZAHN: Fawaz Gerges, thank you for your insights tonight. Appreciate it.


ZAHN: We know the final chapter in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's story, but how did a boy from Jordan become one of the world's most wanted terrorists? You heard a little bit from the professor just now, but we have got more ahead.

And next in our special hour: the life and education of a killer and the missed opportunity to keep him locked up.

And, a little bit later on: Has Osama bin Laden lost an ally or a rival? Could he even be relieved that al-Zarqawi, which many people thought was a psychopath, is dead?

Also, could al-Zarqawi's death make life more dangerous here in the U.S.? What are the chances of retaliation in our own streets?

First, our countdown to the top 10 most popular stories on -- busy day out there on Internet land, 19 million of you logging on today.

Number 10 -- in Michigan today, a man accused of killing three people when he should have been behind bars was sentenced to life in prison. Officials say he was serving time for armed robbery when he was mistakenly freed a year ago.

Number nine -- Vice President Cheney fires back at Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, who accused Cheney of sabotaging planned hearings on the domestic surveillance program. Today, the vice president shot off a letter to Specter, saying, the White House doesn't need approval from Congress to run the program -- numbers eight and seven coming up.


ZAHN: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, including Americans.

And, in just a little bit, I will ask the brother of a man who was kidnapped and beheaded in Iraq what his reaction is to the death of the man who had his brother murdered.

But, first: Al-Zarqawi spent his final years in the shadows, in hiding. And you might be surprised at how much we do know of his earlier life. What turned a boy from Jordan into one of the most hated, most hunted, most bloodthirsty men in the world?


ZAHN (voice-over): He was born in 1966, his real name, Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh. The name al-Zarqawi comes from his hometown in Jordan, Zarqa. It's poor, cramped, a place of intense tribal loyalties, but few opportunities.

By the time he quit school in 1982, he was a teenager with a tough-guy reputation, who, against Muslim custom, drank and even got a tattoo. He drifted. According to one acquaintance, the major change in Zarqawi's life came suddenly, on a day he woke up from a drunken stupor, found God, and discovered holy war.

In 1989, thousands of U.S.-backed Muslim fighters, including Osama bin Laden, were on the verge of driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan. Zarqawi joined the guerrillas and learned to build bombs.

When he returned to Jordan in 1992, he started planning attacks against tourists. And that led to his being imprisoned in 1994. By 1999, Jordan's King Abdullah declared an amnesty, and Zarqawi went home to his wife and four children, but not for long. He went back to Afghanistan to set up a training camp that specialized in bomb-making. It was destroyed in 2001 in the U.S.-led war that overthrew the Taliban.

According to U.S. officials, that's when Zarqawi fled to Iraq, where he started his own terrorist operation. In 2003, he had gained enough notoriety that Colin Powell mentioned him by name at the United Nations.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden.


ZAHN: After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Zarqawi came into his own.

He claimed responsibility for the August 2003 bombing that destroyed the U.N.'s headquarters in Baghdad. Greater outrages followed. In May of 2004, Zarqawi himself is believed to have beheaded American Nicholas Berg, and then released a video of the killing on a Web site.

There have been many other killings and constant Web postings that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi one of the world's best-known terrorists and a marked man.


ZAHN: More now on the connection between al Qaeda and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from correspondent Michael Ware, who has been covering the war in Iraq from the start as "TIME" magazine's bureau chief. He joins us now, because he's one of our guys from there.

So, Michael, you have tracked very closely the movements of Zarqawi over the last couple years you have been in Iraq. What do you think is going to become of the insurgency now?

MICHAEL WARE, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": Well, there is going to be an evolution, clearly. This is a watershed of some degree, firstly, within his organization.

We have seen more and more Iraqis taking leadership roles within Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq. That's sure to have a change. We will now see if they step up and assert their authority, or if another foreigner is appointed to the leadership.

But I have to say, these Iraqis, once they're touched by Zarqawi's breed of terrorism, there is no coming back. I mean, I have been to a Zarqawi camp. I have looked in the eyes of these men. I have been with them as I have seen these men change from nationalist fighters to committed holy warriors.

And I have spoken to Baathist commanders who deal with them who say, you can't talk to these men. It is as though they're from another planet.

So, this is the legacy Zarqawi leaves behind in his organization. We will now see how it changes. We will also see, I think, within the insurgency the former Baath Party and the former military from Saddam's army, who are responsible for the majority of attacks on U.S. forces.

Also, take this ground that Zarqawi has left. There has been a lot of conflict between them. And I think that's what led to his betrayal, that led to his death in this safe house. So, I think one of the first beneficiaries will, strangely, be the Baath.

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about the relationship with al Qaeda from here on in. Zarqawi was always perceived as a lightning rod among other al Qaeda members and jihadists. So, what is going to change?

WARE: Well, this is also very important, in terms of this enormous debate that is taking place within al Qaeda and within the broader jihad community.

Zarqawi very much has been the vanguard of a new generation of al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden, September 11 was meant to inspire and to get others to follow. Well, Zarqawi listened to that. Before Iraq, he was a marginal player. Iraq is the platform that made him.

Now, that forced Osama bin Laden to a decision point. Zarqawi becomes such a superstar within the jihad, they either had to take him on or embrace him. So, they brought him in, in October 2004. But, really, I believe Zarqawi had grander designs. Now on the -- on the board of directors, I think he wanted to be chairman. What now happens to this more brutal, more hard-line generation that he has inspired? Are they brought into the fold, or do they continue on his path?

ZAHN: It's one of the frightening questions that we all have to think about.

Michael Ware, thanks so much. Appreciate your reporting tonight.

Now, what about America's number-one enemy? Coming up, how big a loss is al-Zarqawi's death to Osama bin Laden and the rest of al Qaeda? We may all be surprised.

Also, with a vital election getting closer and closer, could today's news start a political turnaround for President Bush?

First, number eight on our countdown -- 3-year-old Dominique Baker (ph) -- that's her in the purple shirt -- is being called a hero for saving her 2-year-old sister, Jessica (ph), from drowning in a neighbor's pool in Los Angeles. Police say Dominique (ph) was able to hold Jessica's (ph) head above the water until help came. Wow. Amazing story.

Number seven, a new survey of students at 100 U.S. colleges finds that more than 70 percent of undergrads say the most "in" thing right now is the iPod. In fact, they say, iPods are even cooler than beer. Of course that's what they're going to say -- numbers six and five right after this.


ZAHN: Abu Musab Al Zarqawi proclaimed himself the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. So, now that he has been killed, what will it mean for Al Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden?

National Security Correspondent David Ensor has been investigating that question tonight.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The airstrikes that killed Zarqawi were a punch in the gut for Al Qaeda in Iraq and worldwide and the way U.S. officials say they tracked him down, with inside help from his associates, gives some analysts hope it could be a turning point.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: It was a total inside job and that they penetrated this movement in a very deep way and that can build real momentum down the road because, again, when people, people think Bin Laden and Zarqawi are winners, well, they will support them. But, the minute they smell these guys are losers, they'll run away from them.

ENSOR: Zarqawi was not just any terrorist, a heinous killer, yes, but a risk-taking charismatic one that will not be easy to replace, though many may try.

BRUCE HOFFMAN, RAND CORP.: I think there are probably doubtless, indeed, many others out there who are likely going to be inspired and motivated by Zarqawi's example and will seek to be the next Zarqawi.

ENSOR: Last year in a letter captured by U.S. intelligence, Al Qaeda's number two Ayman Al Zawahiri urged Zarqawi to stop the public beheadings, to stop killing so many innocent Muslims, yet, Osama Bin Laden and Zawahiri publicly embraced his bloody rein of terror. Will they be sorry to lose him?

HOFFMAN: With the exception of President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki, the two figures in the world that are happiest about Zarqawi's demise and precisely Bin Laden and Al Zawahiri, because Zarqawi has long been a competitor to them, a rival.

ENSOR: And, he has been more effective in recent years than Bin Laden, U.S. officials say, at attracting would-be jihadists in the Middle East and Europe.

DANIEL BENJAMIN, CO-AUTHOR, "THE NEXT ATTACK": He has done a pretty efficient job of building up the next network after Al Qaeda.

ENSOR (on camera): That next network could be home grown would- be terrorists in Europe or in the United States, inspired by Zarqawi or Bin Laden. No one is counting that out.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


ZAHN: Now, I'll turn to someone who has met Osama Bin Laden and interviewed him. His mission now is to help protect the U.S. from terror attacks at home. He's former ABC news correspondent John Miller, who is now an assistant director of the FBI. Always good to see you, John. Welcome.


ZAHN: In response to Zarqawi's killing, earlier today, the house majority leader said, because of it, that Americans are now safer. Do you really think that's the case?

MILLER: I think there's no doubt in it. What Zarqawi was Al Qaeda's most effective operational franchise. Albeit he was their key franchise in Iraq, but he was responsible for the killing of many Americans there. The thing you have to understand about Zarqawi is while he was an effective franchise in Iraq for Al Qaeda, even to the extent that sometimes his excesses troubled even Al Qaeda, as David Ensor so aptly pointed out, the danger was that he would live to his full potential as a terrorist. The Jordanians will point you to a plot to blow up their own director of intelligence, there. Their CIA headquarters with chemical bombs that, according to the planners after their interrogation, would have killed 80,000 people with a chemical plume, a plot, they say, was funded and backed by Zarqawi's network. That is one of the key reasons he was an operator that needed to be taken off the scene.

ZAHN: Is there any fear of retaliation here in the U.S. for Zarqawi's killing?

MILLER: I wouldn't say there's fear, Paula, that's too strong a term, but I think, to be prudent, this morning, on the orders of the director's office of the FBI, the 56 field offices were alerted to go over their intelligence, talk to their sources, look at their counter terrorism cases a second and third time and make sure that they were able to exploit anything that was coming up in those cases that might point to individuals or some group that would try to make a statement based on this success by the U.S. military.

Again, that's out of an abundance of caution. But, as we saw with the events in Canada, the home-grown threat is here and something we need to deal with and think about.

ZAHN: And John, as you and I both know, there was information last year that suggested that Osama Bin Laden was encouraging Zarqawi to strike against something here in the U.S. is there any evidence he ever made contact with sleeper cells here?

MILLER: Well, without getting in to anything classified, I'll refer to the same published reports that you're referring to. It was a sign, strategically, that Al Qaeda was admitting a failure in their ability to launch an operation here that wasn't independent, that was something that they could control and the fact that a year has passed since that reporting and Zarqawi's network hasn't shown its face here in any way that we can see, it shows they feel challenged. It's been five years almost since September 11 and there hasn't been a successful terror strike on U.S. soil. The FBI and its intelligence partners have interdicted or stopped a number of these attacks everywhere from Torrance, California, to Atlanta. The things we've read about and talked about, the Canadian case is a significant development.

ZAHN: John miller, thank you very much for joining us on the tail end of a very busy and challenging day there at the FBI, appreciate it.

MILLER: Thanks.

ZAHN: There's no getting around it, tonight Al Zarqawi's death is a huge political story as well here. Coming up, could today's big news turn around President Bush's slump in the polls? And, a little bit later on, I'll talk with the brother of Jack Hensley, one of the Americans kidnapped and killed during Zarqawi's reign of terror in Iraq.

Right now number six in our countdown, surprising reaction to the killing of Al Zarqawi from the father of Nick Berg, a U.S. contractor believed beheaded by the terrorist. Michael Berg says he finds no comfort in Al Zarqawi's death. He will join "LARRY KING LIVE" at the top of the hour.

Number five, actor Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards agree to extend a temporary restraining order. They are getting divorced. And, the order requires Sheen to stay 300 yards away from Richards and their two daughters.

Number four and three on our list, straight ahead, stay with us.


ZAHN: The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is probably the best news from Iraq for President Bush since the capture of Saddam Hussein almost three years ago. But will it boost the president's political standing? More on that now from our senior political correspondent and a member of the best political team in TV, Candy Crowley.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Most wanted terrorist in Iraq.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There have not been many days like this.

BUSH: Zarqawi's death is a severe blow to al Qaeda. It's a victory in the global war on terror.

CROWLEY: No one argued the point, not the Democratic congressman who wants an immediate U.S. withdrawal...

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: We want a military victory in this thing.

CROWLEY: Nor the Democratic senator who wants to split up Iraq.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Good news. There is a special place in hell reserved for him.

CROWLEY: After months of spiraling poll numbers and ever-glummer election prospects for his party, the president picked up a clear win. Like the day Baghdad fell. Or Saddam Hussein was caught. Or the first Iraqi election was held.

Clear victories have a way of fading against the landscape of a brutal war. After three years, he knows that.

BUSH: We can expect this sectarian violence to continue. Yet the ideology of terror has lost one of its most visible and aggressive leaders.

CROWLEY: Well schooled now in the mercurial nature of both war and voters, most politicians acted with similar caution and only short-term hope.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: And maybe some of our friends who want to cut and run out of Iraq maybe can feel a little comforted that our mission is showing some success.

CROWLEY: Republican Congressman Chris Shays is in a tough reelection battle, in large part because of his support for the war.

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: A turning point, possibly. I mean, the first turning point was when we formed a government in Iraq in June. That was a turning point. The three elections were a turning point, added momentum. The training of troops, where 40 percent now is controlled by the Iraqis. I guess I would say it just adds momentum to our cause and slows down the other side.

CROWLEY: The truth is, though it's been a good moment, John Murtha still thinks the troops should be redeployed out of Iraq. Joe Biden still thinks the country ought to be partitioned into three different nations. Most voters still oppose the war. It may be that Zarqawi's death will give the president and his Iraq policy a few points bump up in the polls, not enough to really get up off the mat -- maybe enough to buy some time.

BUSH: We have tough days ahead of us in Iraq that will require the continued patience of the American people.

CROWLEY: A little more time is about all he can hope for now. Zarqawi's death will matter in November only if it ultimately means fewer deaths for the U.S. military and innocent Iraqis.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


ZAHN: And just a little earlier, I spoke with Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, who was on the Intelligence Committee, and I asked her if she agrees with Democratic colleagues who say al-Zarqawi's death and a more stable Iraqi government could mean the U.S. can start sending troops home.


SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: I agree to a great extent with that. I think the important thing is to change the nature of the mission.

You know, the American military weren't trained to be police officers. We know we're good at shock and awe, but shock and awe didn't accomplish a great deal. We weren't good when it came to a follow-on force, securing infrastructure, securing the streets, of getting water and electricity on 24/7. And this is where Iraq has to respond now that they have a government.

ZAHN: Realistically then, when is the soonest that all U.S. troops can come home?

BOXER: Realistically, I don't think it's possible to withdraw everybody in the next month or two months. Realistically, I think it is possible to begin a major restructuring and redeployment and move down our troops, troop levels in a reasoned way over a period of time.

ZAHN: Senator, poll after poll shows the vast majority of Americans are not happy about the way this war has been prosecuted, but do you think the president will get some bounce from the killing of al-Zarqawi?

BOXER: I think so. This was a military operation, carried out by the United States government, and it was successful in that respect. But I think it's one incident, and I think the president is right in not overemphasizing it. The next step is where we go from here. That's the important thing.


ZAHN: And, once again, that was Senator Dianne Feinstein from California.

Coming up next, exclusive reaction to the death of al-Zarqawi. What emotions are his victims' families going through today? Well, I'll be talking with the brother of Jack Hensley, one of the Americans kidnapped and killed in Iraq.

And among the guests at the top of the hour on "LARRY KING," Michael Berg, whose son Nicholas was one of the Americans whom Zarqawi himself is believed to have beheaded.

Number four in our countdown. A top U.N. official criticized the U.S. and makes a lot of folks angry in Washington. The U.N.'s number two man, Mark Malloch Brown, accused America of relying on the organization for diplomacy, but failing to defend it against criticism at home.

John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., called the remarks, quote, "condescending and patronizing."

Number three, the family of a Clemson University student who was raped and then strangled with a bikini top is asking why the suspect was freed from a Florida prison after serving just half of a 30-year sentence for rape and kidnapping. Jerry Inman was arrested late Tuesday.

Number two on our countdown is next.


ZAHN: We have talked an awful lot tonight about how Al Zarqawi's death will affect Iraq, terrorism and all of us here in the U.S., but it also directly touches the lives of the families of his victims. Victims like Jack Hensley, who was an American construction worker in Iraq two years ago when he was kidnapped and beheaded. He left behind a wife and daughter. Jack Hensley's wife, Patty, has been counting the days, the hours, the minute since her husband was killed.

And joining now to talk about how his family has been affected by this news, Jack Hensley's brother, Ty Hensley. Thank you for joining us tonight Ty.


ZAHN: Tell us what came to your mind when you heard that Zarqawi had been taken out?

HENSLEY: I had thought about this before I ever got the call and watching the news and wondering if it would mean anything to me or not. I admit, I received a phone call this morning at 6:00 a.m., and it turned out to be much more emotional throughout the day as I've kind of relived and thought about the things that happened and the evil and just the unjust things that were done to my brother and ultimately resulted in the damage to the family. It's horrible.

ZAHN: In a sense, do you think your brother's death has been avenged?

HENSLEY: You know, I just, I never allow myself to get caught up in that because there was nothing I can do about it. I'm in a whole different world and all I can do is take the lemons that came our way and try to do something worthwhile with it. By not getting caught up in that, but I think that there was a mission for a lot of folks, both agents of military, coalition forces, that worked hard on this and I believe that their day of accomplishing what they were specifically trying to achieve has come for them, as well. Yes, a slight, but it's not, obviously, it does not bring my brother back and does not make the hands of time go back.

ZAHN: And, I know as you've tried to struggle to find a new kind of normalcy here that your brother's wife has been under constant pressure. How is Patty holding up?

HENSLEY: You know, she was, I did not realize all the pressure until, I guess, months later. You know, Patty, every day when she looks at their daughter and lives in their home and their friends and knows that now she is the survivor of this mess, I think she's just done an incredible job of holding it together, concentrating on her daughter, Sarah. And, you know, it was tough. I think, you know, things have finally started picking back up for them and I think Sarah is getting, is close to a normal, possible life that a young girl may be able to have of this type of situation.

ZAHN: I know it's been incredibly exhausting to relive everything you had to relive today. Ty Hensley, thank you for sharing those very private thoughts with us tonight.


ZAHN: Right now we're going to shift gears, we're going to move on now to tonight's Business Break. After plunging early in the day, the Dow closed six points higher. The Nasdaq lost about four points, but the S&P also finished with a slight gain. Oil prices fell below $70 a barrel after news that Abu Musab Al Zarqawi had been killed and an Iraqi official predicted oil exports will double within four years.

The latest White House economic forecast predicts a solid economy, lower unemployment through the rest of the year, despite higher energy prices.

And Freddy Mac, the mortgage company, says a 30-year fixed rate now averages 6.67 percent, that is 1 percent higher than a year ago. Our coverage of Al Zarqawi's death will continue at the top of the hour with Larry King, among his guests Michael Berg, who's son Nicholas was also among the Americans beheaded after being kidnapped by Zarqawi and his men.

First, though, number two on our countdown. You may remember the story about the 5-year-old boy from Detroit who called 911 to say his mother had collapsed and the two dispatchers who, authorities say, failed to respond. Well, those same dispatchers have been charged with willful neglect of duty. They face up to a year in jail, if convicted.

Next, the number one story on is what caused this huge mess in Iraq.


ZAHN: It's the top story on, the death of Al Zarqawi. Some new exclusive pictures have just come in and they show how far the U.S. is going to prove that the man who was killed in Iraq really was Al Zarqawi.

A bag containing biological samples from the dead man has just arrived at the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia. These bags, you have just seen, where specialists will perform DNA analysis. They're doing this even though FBI agents have already matched the dead man's fingerprints with those on file for Al Zarqawi. We're told it could be another 48 hours before those DNA tests are complete.

Please stay tuned with CNN throughout the night, both on "LARRY KING LIVE" and at 10:00 p.m., because everybody will be focusing on the story tonight, with a special edition of "ANDERSON COOPER 360." And then this weekend, Wolf Blitzer anchors "IRAQ A WEEK AT WAR." Now this special hour will wrap up Al Zarqawi's death, the investigation of the Haditha killings and a whole lot more.

And that wraps it up for all of us here. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. We'll be back, same time, same place, tomorrow night. Until then, have a good night.


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