Zarqawi leaves gap but insurgency will outlive him
Updated: 2006-06-08 21:16
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."