Friday, June 09, 2006
The end for Abu Musab Al Zarqawi came swift and violent, the same end he inflicted on his countless victims killed in Iraq and Jordan.
In the Arab world the reaction was mixed, In Iraq the mood was festive and jubilant despite several car bombings and more Iraqis were being killed. In the city of Zarqa, his hometown in neighboring Jordan, the mood was somber particularly within his tribal family who held memorial services for him, declaring him a “martyr for Islam” despite killing over sixty people in suicide bombings that rocked the Jordanian capital Amman.
During an interview on Aljazeera satellite channel, Zarqwi’s brother in -law spoke of him as some kind of a saint or a wise sage; Jordanian intelligence agents, however, arrested him during the live interview.
While the overwhelming majority of Muslims shudder at the thought of Zarqawi being immortalized as a martyr for Islam or a saint of sort, his career in which scores of Muslims and non Muslims were either beheaded in cold blood, or blown up into pieces by car bombs or suicide bombing could be anything but the work of a pious man.
Zarqwi’s support in some corners in the Muslim or Arab world stems not from his religiosity or his knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence, which is like his mentor Ben Laden, is negligible. But rather it is because of the fact that he in their mind stood up to western powers that has long abused and exploited them.
Ironically, he and Ben Laden have killed and caused to be killed tens of thousands of Muslims because of their terrorism, destroying two Muslim countries in the process. Afghanistan and Iraq.
Zarqwi’s brand of terrorism in Iraq is a peculiar one, though he declares deep animosity toward the US forces in Iraq, often times referring to them as “ Crusaders” and “ infidels” he nonetheless had terrorized mostly innocent Iraqi civilians in shia or Sunni areas.
Shia Muslims according to Zarqawi extremist religious beliefs are “infidels” and “ heretics”. In his thinking, Shia’s religious and political leadership support and facilitation of American invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq is further proof of their “ heretical” beliefs and tantamount to “treason”
Extremists turned terrorists like Zarqawi and Ben laden, are detached from the realities of the modern world and the trappings of modern history, they seek to reincarnate a puritanical Islamic state modeled after early Islamic experiences in the 7th century.
The Taliban State in Afghanistan was exactly such a state. For Zarqawi, he fought to establish a similar state in Iraq.
The Talibans, however, had forced, the Afghanis to live in 7th century conditions, shutting down schools, banning TV and other worldly and modern amenities. But that was exactly what Ben-Laden and Zarqawi had wanted to see in Afghanistan and if possible elsewhere, however, creating in Afghanistan, instead, the most backward and repressive Islamic state, a state that physically existed in the 21st century but lived in the 7th.
Zarqwi’s sheer brutality in addition to his savvy use of the media and the Internet had propelled him into the spotlight and notoriety at the expense of indigent Iraqi resistance, which sees itself as a legitimate national resistance movement.
Despite that he had only recently declared his allegiance to Bin Laden and Al-Qaida, Zarqwi’s death will momentarily deal a sever blow to AlQaida high profile presences in Iraq and will likely demoralize its rank and file, but as expected, Zarqwi’s death will not end its presence in Iraq, but perhaps reinvigorate it from that point on.
It is very Ironic, however that the killing Zarqawi by American forces could have delivered an unexpected gift to Al-Qaida operations in Iraq.
Though according to many reports put forth by the pentagon as well as congressional testimony by US generals, Zarqawi and other non-Iraqi fighters in Iraq constitute only a small percentage of those operating the daily violence and carnage in Iraq.
Ben Laden main focus in Iraq was fighting the American occupation forces without alienating Iraqi Sunnis and Shias, Zarqawi on the other hand sent suicide bombers and car bombs to kill Iraqi Shias, Sunnis, Christians, and everybody else. His Internet declarations urged Sunnis to fight the Iraqi Shias, calling for civil war between the different segments of Iraqi society.
Zarqwi’s actions, contrary to what Al-Qaida leadership goals in Iraq, had prompted them to remove him from the top leadership position in Iraq and make him only a member of the ‘Shura council” a consultative body of religious organizations fighting in Iraq.
His absence will likely enable Al-Qaida to appoint a local Iraqi leader to head its operations there and therefore give it an image that Iraqis might identify with and refocusing its fight on American and other coalition forces.
Other Iraqi nationalist groups will also likely to benefit from his absence and raise their profile since they never supported his slaughtering of hostages and civilians.
Zarqwi’s death will close one chapter in Iraq but will indeed open yet another one.
Ali Alarabi is a columnist and a co-host of cable and Internet TV talk show, the Counter Point. http://alialarabicolumn.blogspot.com/