Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zarqawi killed

An extraordinary success in the War on Terror, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a Coalition air strike last night.

It is an intelligence success of the highest rank. US and Coalition intelligence units have been tracking Zarqawi for months, and their efforts paid off that gave them 100% certainty Zarqawi was in a safe house near Baquba, north of Baghdad.

In a press conference this morning, Gen. Caldwell, spokesman for MNF-Iraq, said tips from inside Zarqawi's network played a role, but he didn't elaborate.

He also said that the raid last night was followed by 17 additional raids that led to a "treasure trove" of intelligence. He said the targets of these raids had been tracked for awhile, but they had held off on apprehending them so they could be used to track Zarqawi, to build up intel on his habits, travel patterns, etc...

As the military and Pentagon spokesmen have been saying, this will not end the violence, but don't underestimate the importance of this.

Zarqawi had made it a point to kill Iraqi civilians. He, as much as anyone, was encouraging the bloodshed in Iraq.

More important, he undoubtedly knew everyone worth knowing in terror circles in that part of the world. As I've said before, Zarqawi was the nexus of the three main terror influences in Iraq.

He got his start in Ansar al-Islam, a terror group that began in northern Iraq. Such a group could not have operated without the knowledge, and even tacit blessing, of Saddam Hussein. As such, Zarqawi surely had ties to Hussein's Baathist regime that carried over into the insurgency.

Zarqawi was Al Qaeda's chief representative in Iraq. Zarqawi pledged his loyalty to Osama bin Laden in 2004.

And, Zarqawi had contacts in Iran. Zarqawi was known to go in and out of Iran.

The terrorists will find it exceedingly difficult to replace Zarqawi, and his Rolodex, and the relationships he had. Strangers are not going to be able to walk up to his contacts and say "trust me", and work as closely with them as Zarqawi did.

It is fitting that on this same day, Iraq finally named ministers for Defense and Interior. With a complete Cabinet, the Iraqi government can focus on the future.

There are bad days and good days in war. The bad days should never obviate the need for war. By definition war brings bad days.

But this was a very good day. A murderer with the blood of thousands on his hands is dead.

Now, maybe we can look forward to a sitcom on Al Jazeera, about Zarqawi trying to organize his 72 virgins into terror squads.

"No, dear, you pull back on the bolt like this. And you've got the clip in backwards again. Come on, we've been over this a hundred times!"

As he always does, C.S. Scott has a good roundup, and has links to raids in recent weeks that took out some of Zarqawi's aides, as the intelligence task force closed in on him.


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