Saturday, July 16, 2005
The Zarqawi Phenomenon
"A remarkable proportion of the violence taking place in Iraq is regularly credited to the Jordanian Ahmad al-Khalayleh, better known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and his organization Al Qaeda in Iraq. Sometimes it seems no car bomb goes off, no ambush occurs that isn't claimed in his name or attributed to him by the Bush administration. Bush and his top officials have, in fact, made good use of him, lifting his reputed feats of terrorism to epic, even mythic, proportions (much aided by various mainstream media outlets).
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The Bush administration has regularly claimed that Zarqawi was in -- and then had just barely escaped from -- whatever city or area they were next intent on attacking or cordoning off or launching a campaign against. Last year, he and his organization were reputed to be headquartered in Fallujah, prior to the American assault that flattened the city. At one point, American officials even alleged that he was commanding the defense of Fallujah from elsewhere by telephone. Yet he also allegedly slipped out of Fallujah either just before or just after the beginning of the assault, depending on which media outlet or military press release you read.
He has since turned up, according to American intelligence reports and the U.S. press, in Ramadi, Baghdad, Samarra, and Mosul among other places, along with side trips to Jordan, Iran, Pakistan and/or Syria. His closest "lieutenants" have been captured by the busload, according to American military reports, and yet he always seems to have a bottomless supply of them. In May, a news report on the BBC even called Zarqawi "the leader of the insurgency in Iraq," though more sober analysts of the chaotic Iraqi situation say his group, Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad, while probably modest in size and reach is linked to a global network of jihadists. However, finding any figures as to the exact size of the group remains an elusive task."
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