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ABU MUSAB AL-ZARQAWI Printer Friendly Page

Major Introductory Resources:

The Sheikh of the Slaughterers
By Nimrod Raphaeli
July 6, 2005

Al-Zarqawi Post Mortem: How He Lost His Sunni Allies Prior to His Killing
By D. Hazan
June 30, 2006

The Demise of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
By Michael Radu
June 8, 2006

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Lived a Brief, Shadowy Life Replete With Contradictions
By Jeffrey Gettleman
June 9, 2006

Zarqawi and His Role Model
By Richard Miniter & Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
June 9, 2006


Additional Resources:

Symposium: After Zarqawi
By Jamie Glazov
July 7, 2006

A Monument to Evil
By Micah Halpern
July 6, 2006

Why It's Not Easy Being a Liberal
By Burt Prelutsky
June 29, 2006

Commander of Shura Council of Jihad Fighters in Iraq: Al-Zarqawi's Death Will Be Incentive for Jihad and Martyrdom
By MEMRI
June 28, 2006

The Extremist Is Never Alone
By Fouad Ajami
June 25, 2006

Passing on Zarqawi
By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Adam White
June 21, 2006

Making Victory Rhyme with Defeat
By Richard Miniter & Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
June 20, 2006

Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir: Al-Zarqawi's Death Will Not End the Jihad
By MEMRI
June 20, 2006

The West’s Multi-Headed Monster
By Raymond Ibrahim
June 20, 2006

The Democrats' Withdrawal Conundrum
By David Limbaugh
June 20, 2006

Democrats Can't Defend Murtha's Zarqawi Spin
By Amanda B. Carpenter
June 19, 2006

Their Man in Baghdad
By Stephen F. Hayes
June 19, 2006

Now for the Bad News
By Reuel Marc Gerecht
June 19, 2006

Jordanian Islamist MPs & Others on Arab TV: Al-Zarqawi Is a Martyr
By MEMRI
June 16, 2006

Spinning Zarqawi
By Thomas Joscelyn
June 15, 2006

After al-Zaraqawi
By George Will
June 15, 2006

Killing al-Zarqawi: Views from Iraq
By Michael Fumento
June 15, 2006

Zarqawi’s Wake
By James S. Robbins
June 14, 2006

Omar, Bravo!
By Michael Ledeen
June 14, 2006

One Death Could Bring a Stable Iraq, Even as Opportunity and Room to Shape War's Outcome Is Diminishing
By Robert Robb
June 14, 2006

Did Zaraqawi Go Peacefully?
By William F. Buckley, Jr.
June 13, 2006

No Posthumous Victory for Zarqawi
By William Kristol
June 13, 2006

Destroying Terror's Symbols
By Ralph Peters
June 13, 2006

Why Jordan Hunted Zarqawi
By Christopher Hitchens
June 13, 2006

An Indicator of Coming Success against Terror's Long Night
By Ross Mackenzie
June 13, 2006

Head, Arm, Hand or Finger?
By Cal Thomas
June 13, 2006

Sucessor to Al Zarqawi Believed to Be Fellow Jordanian Abu Hamza al Muhajer
Militant Islam Monitor
June 13, 2006

A Demon's Demise
By Mohammed Fadhil
June 13, 2006

Al-Qaeda Decapitated in Iraq
By Brigitte Gabriel
June 12, 2006

Iran Connects the Dots: The Mullahs and the Global War on Terror
By Michael Ledeen
June 12, 2006

Blast Injuries Killed Zarqawi, Military Says
By Susan Jones
June 12, 2006

After al-Zarqawi
By Mark Langlois
June 12, 2006

Make Al-Zarqawi's Death a Turning Point
By Robert J. Caldwell
June 12, 2006

A Shattering of Memes
By Dan Darling
June 11, 2006

A Laudable Death
By Wall Street Journal
June 11, 2006

Florida Muslims Warn about Being "Too Celebratory" about Killing of Al-Zarqawi - Say He Should Have Been Put on Trial Instead
Militant Islam Monitor
June 11, 2006

An Evil Man's Death Replenishes Me
By Mac Johnson
June 9, 2006

The Stakes
By Rich Lowry
June 9, 2006

The Black Prince Is Dead
By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
June 9, 2006

Surprise: Old Media Downplay Zarqawi's Death
By David Limbaugh
June 9, 2006

'Atrocity'
By Oliver North
June 9, 2006

Necessary Morale Boost
By Mona Charen
June 9, 2006

Zarqawi and Pulling Out of Iraq
By Rich Lowry
June 9, 2006

Dagnabit, We Got a Big One!
By Jack Kelly
June 9, 2006

Celebrating the Death of an Anti-Democrat
By Paul Kengor
June 9, 2006

Some Good News, and No Asterisks
By Wesley Pruden
June 9, 2006

The Left and the Death of Zarqawi
By Ben Johnson
June 9, 2006

Killing the Prince of Al-Qaida
By Walid Phares
June 9, 2006

Zarqawi: Killing the Future Chief of Al Qaeda?
By Walid Phares
June 9, 2006

Al-Zarqawi’s Apostasy
By Jim Guirard
June 9, 2006

Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi: Rest in Pieces
By Mark Alexander
June 9, 2006

Nancy Pelosi: Zarqawi Death Changes Nothing
By NewsMax.com
June 9, 2006

After Zarqawi
By Wall Street Journal
June 9, 2006

A Moral Victory
By Daniel Henninger
June 9, 2006

Terrorist Abul Musab Al Zarqawi Killed in Airstrike with 7 Others
Militant Islam Monitor
June 8, 2006

President Bush on Zarqawi’s End
NRO Primary Document
June 8, 2006

Death of a Monster
By Dan Darling
June 8, 2006

Zarqawi Killing Great, but Pull Troops, Say Kerry, Murtha
By Nathan Burchfiel
June 8, 2006

A Crucial Moment
By Andrew C. McCarthy
June 8, 2006

Zarqawi’s Death
NRO Symposium
June 8, 2006

Zarqawi's Final Atrocities
By Richard Miniter
June 8, 2006

Zarqawi's Network Is Left in Shambles
By Jed Babbin
June 8, 2006

Invincibility of Iraqi Insurgency Shattered
By Nile Gardiner
June 8, 2006

Congress Reacts to Zarqawi's Death
By Ivy J. Sellers
June 8, 2006

The Impact of the Death of Zarqawi
By Ian M. Cuthbertson
June 8, 2006

Getting Zarqawi: One Win in Long War
By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
June 8, 2006

Why Zarqawi's Death Matters
By Christopher Hitchens
June 8, 2006

An Amazing Coincidence
By James Taranto
June 8, 2006

Zarqawi in Heaven Now, Family Says
By Julie Stahl
June 8, 2006

Obituary: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
By BBC
June 8, 2006

Who Is Abu Zarqawi?
By Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke
May 24, 2004

Al-Zarqawi Urges Sunni War on Shiites
By Lee Keath
June 6, 2006

Al-Qaida in Iraq, Running Scared, Is Changing Tactics
By Jack Kelly
May 8, 2006

Al Zarqawi Clueless as Gun Jams - Jihadi Wannabes Burn Hands Grabbing Fired Gun by the Barrel
Militant Islam Monitor
May 5, 2006

Zarqawi’s Action Video
By James S. Robbins
April 28, 2006

Crusaders, Lies and Videotape
By Mona Charen
April 28, 2006

New Video by Al-Qaeda Commander in Iraq Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi
By MEMRI
April 27, 2006

Zarqawi: 'What Is Coming Is Even Worse'
By AP
April 25, 2006

Zarqawi, al Qaeda Are Heading Out, U.S. General Says
By Sharon Behn
April 14, 2006

The Stone Face of Zarqawi
By Christopher Hitchens
March 21, 2006

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood MPs: The Koran Encourages Terrorism
By MEMRI
March 10, 2006

Officials: Al-Qaeda to Strike This Year
By YnetNews.com
February 23, 2006

Sunni Sheikhs and Organizations Criticize Al-Zarqawi's Declaration of War Against the Shi'ites
By MEMRI
October 7, 2005

Al-Zarqawi Declares 'Total War' on Shi'ites
By MEMRI
September 16, 2005

Abu Zarqawi: Holy Man
By Robert Spencer
May 31, 2005

Revisionist History
By Dan Darling
November 15, 2005

Al-Qaeda Reports on Al-Zarqawi's Anti-Shiite Campaign
By MEMRI
September 23, 2005

Iraqi Confession TV Series Captured Iraqi Terrorist Ramzi Hashem
By MEMRI
August 19, 2005

Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi: Collateral Killing of Muslims Is Legitimate
By MEMRI
June 7, 2005

First Known Footage of Al-Qaeda Leader in Iraq: Al-Zarqawi on Al-Jazeera TV
By MEMRI
May 26, 2005

Zarqawi a Nuke Threat
By WorldNetDaily
April 20, 2005

The City of Al-Zarqaa in Jordan - Breeding Ground of Jordan's Salafi Jihad Movement
By MEMRI
January 17, 2005

Terrorists Caught in Iraq Confess: We Murdered People by Orders of Al-Zarqawi
By MEMRI
January 10, 2005

Zarqawi is the Commander of Al-Qa'ida in Iraq
By MEMRI
December 30, 2004

A Documentary and a Discussion about Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi
By MEMRI
November 28, 2004

Al-Zarqawi's Group Adopted the Worst Practices of the Algerian GIA
By MEMRI
November 10, 2004

If Al-Zarqawi Hurts the US - Long Live Al-Zarqawi
By MEMRI
October 21, 2004

Al-Zarqawi Associate: Al-Zarqawi Unconnected To Al-Qa'ida
By MEMRI
September 23, 2004

Al-Zarqawi's Message to the Fighters of Jihad in Iraq
By MEMRI
September 15, 2004

Inside the Zarqawi Network
By Jonathan Schanzer
August 10, 2004

What Would Zarqawi be Doing if He Weren’t in Iraq?
By Dennis Prager
October 12, 2004

Al-Qa'ida Magazine: 'O Sheikh of the Slaughterers, Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi'
By MEMRI
October 12, 2004

Unmasked Men
By Mindy Belz
October 12, 2004

Al-Zarqawi: America's Agent in Iraq
By Steven Stalinsky
June 21, 2005

Zarqawi’s Big Mistake
By James S. Robbins
November 14, 2005

Jordanians are Shocked - Shocked! - That a Wedding Would Be Blown Up
By Dennis Prager
November 15, 2005

‘Palestinians’ Taste Their Own Medicine
By Daniel Pipes
November 15, 2005

Judgment Day?
By James S. Robbins
November 21, 2005

Sign of Al Qaeda Desperation
By Richard Miniter
November 21, 2005

The Revolution Eats Its Own
By Barry Rubin
October 20, 2005

Iraqi Officials Confirm Zarqawi Is Wounded
By Associated Press
May 27, 2005

Zarqawi Had a Close Call with Marines
By Rowan Scarborough
April 11, 2005

Report: Zarqawi Trying to Get Message to Bin Laden
By Fox News
August 3, 2004

First Audio Recording By Al-Qa'ida Leader in Iraq Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi
By MEMRI
January 7, 2004

Al Qaeda, Iraq Partners in Terror - Powell
By CNN.com
February 5, 2003


Click here to view a sample Profile.

al-Zarqawi's Visual Map
 

  • Was associated with numerous Islamist terrorist groups
  • Personally beheaded American businessman Nicholas Berg
  • Met with Osama bin Laden on numerous occasions
  • Was killed by U.S. military in June 2006

 

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was born Ahmed al-Khalayleh to an impoverished Palestinian-Jordanian family in 1966. He was raised in a mining town named Zarqa -- hence his nom de guerre -- located 17 miles north of Amman.

A high-school dropout, Zarqawi in the 1980s rallied to the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Returning to Jordan after the 1989 withdrawal of Soviet troops, he may have joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. While in Jordan he also associated with Hizb ut Tahrir, an anti-Semitic conclave devoted to the restoration of Islamic Law, or Shariah. He was imprisoned in 1992 for plotting to replace the Jordanian monarchy with an Islamic fundamentalist government. When he was released five years later, he fled to Europe.

Zarqawi returned to Afghanistan in 2000 and built his own network of training camps near Herat, seizing control of the clandestine routes between Iran and Afghanistan. In his camps, Zarqawi dispensed his specialized knowledge of chemical weapons and poisons to loyal followers, who then fanned out across the Middle East and Europe.

In February 2002, a Jordanian court sentenced Zarqawi in absentia to 15 years' hard labor for his involvement in a failed plot to kill American and Israeli tourists at the turn of the millennium, a scheme he had coordinated with Abu Zubaydah, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. Another Jordanian court sentenced Zarqawi, again in absentia, to death for the October 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley.

Zarqawi's operatives were implicated also in a November 2002 attack on a Mombassa hotel frequented by Israeli tourists, and in an attempt, that same month, to shoot down an Israeli jetliner with shoulder-fired missiles.

Zarqawi was first thrust into the global media spotlight in February 2003, shortly before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when American Secretary of State Colin Powell at the United Nations called him an "associate and collaborator" of Osama bin Laden and part of a "sinister nexus between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network."

Zarqawi is believed to have played a role in the May 2003 Casablanca bombings of a Jewish community center and a Spanish social club, killing 41 people. He was the prime suspect in the August 2003 truck bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, which killed 17 and injured at least 40. And he was believed to be the mastermind of the deadly Madrid railway bombings of March 11, 2004, which killed 190 people and wounded more than 1,800.

The week of April 19, 2004, Jordanian police broke up a Zarqawi-financed and -orchestrated plot which they estimated would have detonated 20 tons of chemicals and released a massive cloud of poisonous gas into central Amman, killing some 80,000 civilians and destroying the U.S. embassy and Jordanian intelligence headquarters. In a videotaped confession shown on Jordanian TV, the head of the terror cell responsible for this plot admitted, "I took explosives courses, poisons high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, to obey him without any questioning."

In May 2004, a Jordanian military court sentenced to death nine men, including Zaqrawi, for plotting that chemical attack. Zarqawi and three others received the death penalty in absentia, while the plot's alleged mastermind, Azmi al-Jayousi, and four co-defendants were in the courtroom when the judge handed down the sentence.

When German authorities had investigated, in the wake of 9/11, the Hamburg cell which consisted of several key operatives who had helped plan and carry out the 9/11 suicide hijackings, those authorities came across a terrorist group called al-Tawhid (unity), composed mainly of Palestinians who had been trained in Zarqawi's Afghan camps to organize attacks against Jewish targets, including businesses and synagogues. Al-Tawhid operatives told investigators they had gotten their start in Europe by selling stolen and forged documents to militants traveling between the Middle East and Western Europe.

With the outbreak of war in Iraq in 2003, al-Tawhid converted its alien-smuggling and document-forgery ring into a two-way underground railroad between Western Europe and the Middle East -- dispatching Middle Eastern jihadis into Europe via Spain, Turkey, Italy, and Greece. In November 2003, Italian wiretaps recorded two al-Tawhid operatives speaking of "the jihad part" and its "battalion of 25-26 units" of suicide bombers.

Though Zarqawi met with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan several times, the former never actually became a member of al Qaeda. Some militants have explained that al-Tawhid was "especially for Jordanians who did not want to join al Qaeda." A confessed al-Tawhid member even told his interrogators that Zarqawi was "against al Qaeda."

Zarqawi and bin Laden disagreed over strategy: The former had constructed his al-Tawhid network primarily to target Jews and Jordan. This choice reflected both Zarqawi's Palestinian heritage and his dissent from bin Laden's strategy of focusing on the "far enemy" -- the United States.

In addition to al-Tawhid, Zarqawi was also associated with such terrorist entities as: Ansar al Islam, a largely Kurdish organization operating out of northern Iraq; Beyyiat el-Imam, an al Qaeda splinter group implicated in attacks in Israel as well as the November 2003 attack on a synagogue in Turkey; Jund al-Shams, a Syrian-Jordanian outgrowth of al Qaeda which was blamed by Jordanian authorities for the assassination of the aforementioned Laurence Foley; Chechen jihadis; and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a Pakistani Sunni group responsible for slaying hundreds of Shias in South Asia.

This slaughter of Shias touched on another Zarqawi disagreement with bin Laden. Whereas the latter made numerous tactical alliances with Shia groups, Zarqawi favored butchering Shias, calling them "the most evil of mankind … the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom." American military officials believe Zarqawi was responsible not only for assassinating Shia religious leaders in Iraq, but also for the multiple truck bombings of a Shia religious festival in March 2004, which killed 143 worshippers in the city of Karbala.

While bin Laden and Zarqawi differed on strategy, they both cloaked their plans for mass murder in the language of religious zealotry. To Zarqawi, religion was "more precious than anything and has priority over lives, wealth, and children." He considered Iraq an ideal battleground for jihad, especially because "it is a stone's throw from the lands of the two Holy Precincts [Saudi Arabia] and the al Aqsa [mosque, in Jerusalem]." We know from God's religion," he said, "that the true, decisive battle between infidelity and Islam is in this land [Greater Syria and its surroundings]…."

In January 2004, Iraqi Kurds captured a message from Zarqawi in Iraq to Osama bin Laden. In this communique, Zarqawi offered bin Laden a chance to expand al Qaeda's role in Iraq. Victory, Zarqawi instructed, meant fomenting sectarian war between Shiites and Sunnis. "We do not see ourselves as fit to challenge you [bin Laden]," wrote Zarqawi. "... If you agree with us … we will be your readied soldiers, working under your banner, complying with your orders, and indeed swearing fealty to you publicly and in the news media…. If things appear otherwise to you, we are brothers, and the disagreement will not spoil [our] friendship."

In a May 2004 videotape which showed Zarqawi personally beheading the abducted American businessman Nick Berg in Iraq, Zarqawi raged: "Where is the compassion, where is the anger for God's religion, and where is the protection for Muslims' pride in the crusaders' jails?... The pride of all Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and other jails is worth blood and souls."

In an audiotape released in May 2005, a voice believed to be that of Zarqawi condemned Iraqi Shiites as U.S. collaborators and called for their murder: "God ordered us to attack the infidels by all means ... even if armed infidels and unintended victims -- women and children -- are killed together. The priority is for jihad, so anything that slows down jihad should be overcome."

On June 8, 2006, a U.S. military plane fired two 500-pound hellfire missiles into the house where Zarqawi was staying, destroying the structure and killing Zarqawi.  


Most of this profile is adapted, with permission, from the article "Who Is Abu Zarqawi?," written by Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke. It was published on May 24, 2004 by The Weekly Standard.

 

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