Thursday, June 08, 2006

Flypaper Meets 500 Pound Bomb (Zarqawi)

I woke up this morning to reports that the U.S. finally found and killed Abu Musab Al- Zarqawi with a five hundred pound laser-guided bomb.  Zarqawi was generally identified as the face of terrorist attacks in Iraq, although Zarqawi himself was actually Jordanian.  I tried to look up a few things about Zarqawi and there was surprisingly little, particularly about how a poor uneducated Jordanian man decided to become a terrorist and how the same man acquired the level of sophistication that would make him the second most wanted man in the world.  Actually, there’s a twenty five million dollar reward both for Bin Laden and Zarqawi which technically made them co-most wanted men in the world. I wonder if anyone is going to claim the reward.

Zarqawi was involved with or took credit for dozens of genuinely disgusting acts including the taped beheading of Nicholas Berg, an American civilian, the assassination of Lawrence Foley, and bombings that killed more than 700 people (mostly civilians) in Iraq.  

A couple interesting Zarqawi facts.

  1. He spent seven years in prison in his native Jordan in the 1990’s.

  2. He was also re-arrested in 2001 (note the year) but released by the Jordanians

  3. It doesn’t appear that he had anything to do with 9/11

  4. Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he doesn’t seem to have had direct ties to Bin Laden

  5. The Pentagon had at least three opportunities to capture or kill Zarqawi prior to 2003, but the National Security Council vetoed the attempts allegedly because it would weaken the case for war with Iraq.  

  6. Zarqawi may have been living in Iraq, but there he had no clear ties to Saddam.  

  7. Zarqawi only publicly allied himself with Al Qaeda after the invasion of Iraq.  There’s an interesting argument that Al Qaeda activity in Iraq happened because the U.S. invaded Iraq.

Some things I’m still wondering about

  1. Much of the killing lately has been sectarian.  What was Zarqawi’s role in that violence?

  2. Was Zarqawi’s own role and influence exaggerated because the war on terror needed an identifiable enemy?  I don’t necessarily disagree with doing that, I just noticed this jump in what I was able to find between incidents that linked Zarqawi directly (less than a handful) to the claim that he was directly responsible for more than 700 deaths.  

  3. What would we have found out had we caught and tried the guy?  Again, maybe a big bomb was the way to go, but the statement that they knew exactly where he was, etc.  Suggests that capture might have been quite feasible.

  4. There’s reference to people in his organization providing the information that allowed the U.S. to pinpoint his whereabouts.  What’s that about?  Why were they ready to give him up?

I do believe this is a positive development.  It is evidence that we can identify an enemy, have the intelligence resources to ultimately track him, and complete the mission.  On the downside, I’m hesitant to celebrate dropping a five hundred pound bomb on any sentient being (I’d consider doing it in some circumstances, sorry Mr. Pogblog, particularly if that person was about to kill me or someone else, but I’d worry about people who start throwing parties, proclaiming victory, etc. because of this.
I don't regret the loss to the world of someone whose identity was built around taking lives, but when I celebrate something in Iraq it won't be about who got killed. It'll be about an event where something got made, something grew, or something matured into an institution or resource that makes life better by addition not detonation.



At 6/10/2006 11:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The odious rampaging horrors of Iraq rend the planet. The idea that a 500 lb bomb is a better way of beheading someone than a scimitar is loathsome and fatuous. It's all incomprehensibly disgusting and vilely immoral. Until we recoil equally from our own hideous acts, the Lesson ain't learned.

That our "dozens of genuinely disgusting acts" are performed with F16s and tanks doesn't glorify them. We "know" with zero doubt that there will be innocent (not collateral) deaths when we use our enormous weapons, and it is ugly and evil of us to suggest that we have finer purposes in this face of this complete and inescapable knowledge.

At 6/11/2006 09:41:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

As I mentioned, one has to wonder why they didn't "capture" him if the safe-house was that isolated and they had such good information about exactly where he was. I don't know the answer to that. I'm mostly amazed that anyone can have two five hundred pound bombs dropped more or less directly on top of him and be intact and even talking a little bit afterwards.

Some have pointed out that the US is claiming that cell phone tracing allowed them to find Zarqawi which may help justify the NSA information harvesting thing.


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