WORLD / Middle East

Al-Qaida chief al-Zarqawi killed
Updated: 2006-06-08 15:40

Who will fill the gap?

The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi removes the man who took Iraq's insurgency to new heights of savagery but it also creates a martyr whose inspiration will mobilize new recruits.

Arab and Western security analysts were agreed on Thursday that Zarqawi's death in a U.S. air raid would not end the insurgency, even if it represents a rare triumph in Iraq for the Bush administration.

"There will be people that will be mobilized to join the caravan of martyrs, to emulate his example and to honor him," said Magnus Ranstorp, an al Qaeda expert at the Swedish National Defense College.

But it does eliminate a supremely ruthless commander pursuing an explicit strategy of fomenting strife between Sunnis and majority Shias that has pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

Zarqawi became the chief symbol of the insurgency as he personally beheaded foreign hostages, directed some of the deadliest bombings against Iraqi and coalition forces and propagated his own legend with skilled use of the Internet.

The United States helped to build up Zarqawi's aura, even before the invasion of Iraq, when Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United Nations in 2003 he was part of a "sinister nexus" between Iraq and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

"The poster boy who united terrorism with Iraq has gone," said Ranstorp.

"Bin Laden propelled him, he propelled himself and the United States helped him in this endeavor. He's now a martyr, he was always going to be a martyr, he was larger than life."
Page: 1234567