Who was Zarqawi?

Mythical figure and terror mastermind Abu Musab Al Zarqawi was killed in an air raid, according to a statement of the Iraqi government.

Zarqawi has been upheld both in official statements and the media as head of “the Sunni insurgency”, leader of “al-Qaeda in Iraq”, allegedly responsible for the the killings of thousands of civilians.

The evidence suggests, however, that Zarqawi was part of a Pentagon disinformation campaign launched in 2003, which was initially intended to justify the US led invasion of Iraq. This central role of Zarqawi as an instrument of war propaganda was recently confirmed by leaked military documents revealed by the Washington Post.

The Pentagon had set up a “Zarqawi program”. Military documents confirm that the role of Zarqawi had been deliberately “magnified” with a view to galvanizing public support for the US-UK led “war on terrorism”

All true, Zarqawi was a convenient target to use to pump up the ‘war on terror.’ But he wasn’t a construct, far from it. And that’s where I think analysis like this, however helpful, trips up. It attributes too much power to the CIA and Pentagon, who are obvious incompetents much of the time. I mean, the Pentagon lost in Vietnam, and is losing in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the CIA didn’t even see 9/11 coming. Do these seem like all-powerful types able to subvert countries on a whim and create terrorists out of thin air whom they can then attack? Not hardly.

Plus, it denigrates the resistance in Iraq against the American occupation, resistance that is coming from everywhere. This is not something invented by the neocons so they can have all war, all the time, it’s a real-life fighting back by an occupied people.

Osama belongs to the powerful bin Laden family, which historically had business ties to the Bushes and prominent members of the Texas oil establishment. Bin Laden was recruited by the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war and fought as a Mujahideen. In other words, there is a longstanding documented history of bin Laden-CIA and bin Laden-Bush family links, which are an obvious source of embarrassment to the US government.

The Mooj were funded in part by the CIA to fight the Russians in Afghanistan in the 80’s. To say events got away from them would be a dramatic understatement and also confirms the incompetence of the CIA, whose idea of long-term planning appears to be about two weeks. The bin Laden family owns the biggest construction company in the Middle East, it’s world-class in size. The family says they have nothing to do with Osama, and y’know what, they probably don’t. They are billionaires and he is way bad for business. Why would they have any contact with a rogue brother considering that if such contact were made public, their business empire could take a serious hit?

‘Zarqawi the myth’ was created and used by the US to build for war and invasion. But that doesn’t mean ‘Zarqawi the man’ wasn’t a threat to them or that there aren’t thousands more ready to fill his role and fight to drive the US out of Iraq. Saying this is somehow a neocon subterfuge ignores the obvious, the vast majority of Iraqis want the US out, and the insurgency is homegrown, widespread, and growing.



  1. The Jordanians are claiming credit for locating Zarqawi in Iraq as part of “Operation Hotel Martyrs” which Jordanian intelligence has been running ever since Zarqawi attacked Jordanian luxury hotels last year. The Jordanians, unlike the American armed forces, actually speak Arabic and have some knowledge of what’s going on on the ground. It seems unlikely that the Americans would ever have found him on their own, although his attacks on Shiites gave the Shi’a good reason to turn him in.

    But your point about Zarqawi as a useful boogeyman to American policymakers is still sound. I note that the right-wing considers this to be entirely an American success and a turning point in Iraq. Why they think that killing a Jordanian jihadi does anything to affect the 250 million poinds of munitions and arms that Rumsfeld allowed to disappear after seizing the arms depots on the road to Baghdad is unclear, but then so much of the “conservative” thought about the middle east is incomprehensible to anybody who doesn’t think that the Arabs are simply Nebraskans in exotic garb.

  2. Also, the more extreme of the conspiracy theories (Zarqawi was a CIA construct, Dubya planned 9/11) imply the US had to have done it because Arabs and Muslims couldn’t have done it on their own – in other words, such theories tend to be both zenophobic and racist.

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