(Update: President Bush is expected to comment on Zarqawi’s demise around 7:30 a.m. EST. Press reports said the president learned about the successful strike on the terrorist leader Tuesday evening. Read article on the President’s speech here.)
(by Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews.com) – Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, has been killed, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki announced at a press conference on Iraqi state television shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday Washington time.
“Today we have managed to put at end to al-Zarqawi,” Maliki said in Arabic, to thunderous applause.
The accomplishment stemmed from the type of cooperation the government had been asking of Iraqi citizens, the prime minister said, suggesting that an intelligence tip-off had led forces to track down Zarqawi.
His death was a message to all those who are pursuing violence, Maliki said, pledging to kill “all the terrorists.”
The top U.S. general in Iraq, General George Casey, said Zarqawi had been killed in an air strike — along with one of his top lieutenants — in an isolated safe house north of Baghdad on Wednesday evening.
“Coalition forces killed al Qaeda terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants…yesterday, June 7, at about 6:15 in the evening.”
General Casey said “tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders” from Zarqawi’s own network led coalition forces to Zarqawi as he met with his associates in Baquba, north of Baghdad.
“Iraqi police were first on the scene after the air strike,” Casey said.
“We have been able to identify al-Zarqawi through fingerprint verification, facial recognition and known scars.”
Casey called Zarqawi’s death a “significant blow to al Qaeda and another step toward defeating terrorism in Iraq.”
While Zarqawi dead, “the terrorist organization still poses a threat, as its members will try to terrorize the Iraqi people and destabilize their government,” Casey said.
The elusive Sunni terrorist has been blamed for dozens of suicide and other bombing attacks against coalition forces, Iraqi troops and Shi’ite civilians in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led war that overthrew Saddam Hussein.
Casey said he was responsible for the deaths of “thousands of Iraqis.”
Zarqawi’s Tawhid and Jihad (monotheism and holy war) group have been linked to some of the most deadly atrocities, including the decapitation of hostages. The deaths of at least seven hostages — three Americans, a Briton, a Bulgarian, a South Korean and a Turk — have been attributed to the Zarqawi group.
U.S. officials believe Zarqawi personally beheaded Nicholas Berg, the American hostage killed in the spring of 2004. A video of the gruesome killing was posted on the Internet.
In 2004, Zarqawi announced he was pledging his allegiance to Osama bin Laden, saying in a statement that the al-Qaeda leader was “the best leader for Islam’s armies against all infidels and apostates.”
That same year, the State Department announced an increase in the reward it was offering for information leading to Zarqawi’s capture, of up to $25 million — the same amount offered for bin Laden.
Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
1. Who was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? (What do you know about him?)
2. What happened to Zarqawi?
3. What led coalition forces to Zarqawi?
4. How were coalition forces able to identify Zarqawi’s body? (list 3)
5. How do you think the death of Zarqawi will affect Iraqis? and American troops? What do you think about the death of Zarqawi?
Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.