Baghdad (AFP)-Al-Qaeda's chief in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in an air strike on a safe house where he was holding a meeting, the prime minister announced, ending the hunt for the country's most wanted fugitive...
...General George W. Casey Jr, head of US-led forces in Iraq, told the press conference that Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants, spiritual advisor Sheikh Abdel Rahman, were killed at 6:15 pm (1415 GMT) Wednesday in an air strike on an isolated safe house...by Jay Deshmukh
This is great news out of Iraq today. A cold blooded killer of innocent men, women, and children has finally been sent to hell where he belongs. Over the past few years Zarqawi had become as infamous as Osama bin Laden and had proved just as elusive. With the dark cloud of the recent spike in attacks and the Haditha investigation hanging over the heads of Coalition forces and the Iraqi people, finally they have something to celebrate.
I am not suggesting that we break out the champagne and declare the insurgency dead for I am afraid it certainly is not. In fact I would expect a concerted effort on the part of the insurgents to look to prove over the next few days or weeks that they intend to fight on. However, this is still a major victory that proves to the insurgents that the Coalition and Iraqi forces will not capitulate and will continue to take the fight to the enemy. What I have found to be even more encouraging are the words of the Iraq Prime Minister from the Associated Press story by Patrick Quinn.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stated that "Today, al-Zarqawi was eliminated," he also said "Those who disrupt the course of life, like al-Zarqawi, will have a tragic end, and whenever there is a new al-Zarqawi, we will KILL HIM."(emphasis mine) The Prime Minister was not done there he went on to state, "This is a message for all those who embrace violence, killing and destruction to stop and to retreat before it's too late, it is an open battle with all those who incite sectarianism."
Extremely strong words to say the least. The Prime Minister has taken this momentous opportunity to project himself as a strong leader. One that will lead the Iraqi people to peace and stability and one that will not shy away from hunting those that stand in the way of progress. It seems now the Iraqi people have someone to rally behind and to look towards for direction.
The Prime Minister and the newly formed Iraqi government have been catching a lot of heat in the American press lately for thier lack of unification and leadership. This seems like the perfect opportunity for them to step into the limelight and out of the shadow that had been cast by Zarqawi. From the words of the Prime Minister it looks like at least he recognizes this and is attempting the seize the moment. Let us all hope that other Iraqi government officials recognize this for what it is as well and that they rally behind al-Maliki. Strong leadership provided by Iraqi's, not foreigners, is exactly what the Iraqi people have been waiting and hoping for. I hope that they do not squander this opportunity.
As news spreads today of Zarqawi's demise it will still be met by the media and the Bush detractors with the usual so what our soldiers are still in Iraq and Bush lied about WMD's attitude. They will also dilute this good news with more punditry on Haditha and massacre as well as with talk of Lt. Watada's refusal to deploy and fight in an "illegal occupation." That should be expected by now. It does not matter much how the news is reacted to here in America. It matters a great deal how the Iraqi government and people react.
Linked at All Things Conservative and check out Red Hot Cuppa Politics for some liveblogging updates