Terror Experts Agree: Zarqawi Death A Significant Blow To AQ
Posted by ssbg on June 10, 2006
The Washington Post leads with an analysis of the impact from the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq this week, and the news sounds much better than some of the talking heads on television would lead viewers to believe. Zarqawi's death will not only degrade his own AQI network, but will have a tremendous impact on terror networks worldwide, according to analysts:
The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi could mark a turning point for al-Qaeda and the global jihadist movement, according to terrorism analysts and intelligence officials. …Some European and Arab intelligence officials said they had seen signs before Zarqawi's death that the number of foreign fighters going to Iraq was already waning. For recruitment efforts, the importance of Zarqawi's death "cannot be overestimated," Germany's foreign intelligence chief, Ernst Uhrlau, told the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.
Guido Steinberg, an expert on Islamic radicalism at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, said other groups of foreign fighters that kept a loose alliance with Zarqawi, such as Ansar al-Sunna, might turn away from al-Qaeda in Iraq now that he is gone.
"It's a great loss for the these jihadi networks," said Steinberg, who served as a counterterrorism adviser to Gerhard Schroeder when he was chancellor of Germany. "I don't think there is any person in Iraq able to control this network the way Zarqawi did. It's very decentralized. He was the only person in Iraq who could provide the glue.
"By losing Zarqawi, they run the danger of losing Iraq as a battlefield to the nationalist insurgents and others who aren't interested in bin Laden or the global jihad."
It takes the Post several paragraphs to get to its point, after offering all of the ways in which Zarqawi differed from AQ's main networks, but it does highlight the strategic and symbolic nature of Zarqawi's elimination. The Jordanian terrorist inspired many recruits, using his web site to chronicle his exploits and to show his defiance to the Western enemies he fought. He also became a rallying point for those who fear the zealotry of the Shi'a among Islam, more and more exlplicitly attacking Shi'ite targets in order to provoke an intra-Islam bloodbath.
With his elimination, no other major figure has his reach or his following to fully replace him. It will take months or years for someone of Zarqawi's stature to rise in Iraq and have the credibility necessary to unite the disparate components of the receding insurgencies there. In the meantime, because Zarqawi provided such a unifying presence, the US and Iraqi security forces will exploit the intelligence captured during the raid to damage the various cells and networks he accessed. US forces conducted dozens of raids over the last two days doing just that.
The notion that killing a high-ranking commander in any enemy organization will have no effect is just ludicrous on its face. Killing one general does not win a war, but in any case it makes it much more difficult for the enemy to organize. In this case especially, the loss of the one unifying presence for foreign terrorists in Iraq serves as a severe blow to organization, recruitment, financing, and coordination. Put more simply: Iraq, the American troops, and the world is a much better place without Zarqawi in it, and AQ has publicly lost their talking point about terrorist invincibility.