India Intelligence Report

   Al-Qaeda’s Top Iraqi Man Killed

  • Intelligence from moles in al Qaeda and Jordan led to precision bombing

  • US claims victory but cautious to claim reduction in terror in Iraq

  • al-Zarqawi personally participated, beheaded hostages

Intelligence driven precision air raid on a safe house in Baquba killed al Qaeda’s main man responsible for most terrorist incidents in Iraq who carried a bounty of USD 25 million. The death of Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is being projected by the US and UK as a turning point in their occupation of Iraq and as an important development that would lead to the return to normalcy. His identity was confirmed by fingerprints and a first-hand look at his face. Zarqawi's death has been hailed as a major victory in the US-led war on terror.

US President George Bush minced no words to declare that “The ideology of terror has lost one of its most visible and aggressive leaders.” He also said “Zarqawi’s death is a severe blow to Al-Qaeda.” U.S. military officials released a picture of al-Zarqawi taken by Special Forces after the attack and showed aircraft video depicting the strike.

The highest-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq U.S. Gen George Casey declined to provide many details about the air strike but said “all of these operations are the result of a long, painstaking process where tips and intelligence are received, processed and checked out.” He also sought to divide the organization further by claiming that “Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his network led forces to al-Zarqawi and some of his associates who were conducting a meeting approximately eight kilometers north of Baquba when the air strike was launched.” An anonymously quoted Jordanian official said Jordan also provided the US military with information that helped in tracking the terrorist down.

A senior Iraqi Government official said that al-Zarqawi’s location was “pinpointed" in Baquba. That city has recently seen a spike in sectarian violence, including the discovery of 17 severed heads in fruit boxes. Last week, a sectarian atrocity saw masked gunmen killing 21 Shiites, including a dozen students, after separating out four Sunni Arabs.

Al-Zarqawi was notorious for his campaign of beheadings, car bomb plots, assassinations, and suicide attacks that killed many innocent Iraqis in addition to occupying coalition forces. What makes al-Zarqawi different is that he personally led and executed many of the deaths endearing him to insurgent jihadi elements who view death killing “infields” as a glorious way to die. Principal enemy of the US, Osama bin Laden is credited to have called al-Zarqawi “the prince of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.” Al-Zarqawi, who swore allegiance to bin Laden in 2004, issued an audiotape on the Internet, accusing Shias in Iraq and saying militias were raping women and killing Sunnis and the community must fight back. After personally beheading two of the Americans, Nicholas Berg and Eugene Armstrong, al-Zarqawi his supporters gave him the title "the slaughtering sheikh." He also expanded the terror campaign beyond Iraq's borders. He claimed the November 9, 2005 triple suicide strikes against hotels in Amman, Jordan that killed 60 people, as well as other attacks in Jordan and even a rocket attack from Lebanon into northern Israel.

An umbrella organization representing "Jihadi groups" confirmed Al Zarqawi’s death saying “We want to give you the joyous news of the martyrdom of the Mujahid Sheikh Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme."

Bush leveled many charges on al-Zarqawi saying that bin Laden had “called on the terrorists around the world to listen to him and obey him. Zarqawi personally beheaded American hostages and other civilians in Iraq. He masterminded the destruction of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. He was responsible for the assassination of an American diplomat in Jordan, and the bombing of a hotel in Amman. To achieve these ends, he worked to divide Iraqis and incite civil war. And only last week he released an audio tape attacking Iraq’s elected leaders and denouncing those advocating the end of sectarianism.”

Bush called on Iraqis to “be justly proud of their new government” and asked them to cooperate to “improve” the security of the country. While he anticipated “sectarian violence to continue,” Bush noted “the ideology of terror has lost one of its most visible and aggressive leaders.” The US sees this as an “opportunity for Iraq’s new government to turn the tide of this struggle.”

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said al-Zarqawi's death "was very good news because a blow against al-Qaeda in Iraq was a blow against al-Qaeda everywhere."

Along with al-Zarqawi, his spiritual adviser Sheik Abdul Rahman was also killed. It is speculated that the Egyptian born Abu Al Masri could succeed Al Zarqawi as the head of the Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam cautiously said that the killing of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was a "significant development in the war on terror” and hoped that the security situation in Iraq "will now improve."