The family of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said Friday they want to bury him in his
hometown, but Jordan vowed the terror leader who killed Jordanians in a triple
hotel bombing would never "stain" the country's soil.
Al-Zarqawi's family passed out candies to
well-wishers who came by the house to celebrate his "martyrdom" ¡ª bringing into
the open the vein of sympathy that ran through the community even after his clan
officially renounced al-Zarqawi last year.
Two Jordanian veiled
women, reportedly Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's sisters, enter his house in
Zarqa, 27 kms (16 Miles) east of Amman, Jordan, Thursday, June 8. 2006.
Members of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's family gathered here Thursday to mourn
the death of the notorious al-Qaida in Iraq leader who they had disavowed
last year after an attack on civilians in Jordan.
But many seemed conflicted about al-Zarqawi, proud of his fight against U.S.
forces many here see as occupiers in Iraq but also angry over his attacks in
Al-Zarqawi's brother, Sayel al-Khalayleh, said "I and all members of our
family want him (Al-Zarqawi) to be buried in his hometown of Zarqa."
"Everybody must understand that his place must be near his family," he told
The Associated Press by telephone. "He is a martyr and should be treated as
Security forces closed off the neighborhood around the family home,
preventing reporters from approaching.
A top Jordanian security official said Friday that the government will not
allow al-Zarqawi "under any circumstances" to be buried in Jordan and "stain
Jordanian soil." He pointed to the suicide bombing against hotels in the
capital, Amman, in November 2005. Al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq organization
carried out the attack, which killed 60 people, most of them Jordanians.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to
speak to the press. But he said he was giving the government position on the
Al-Zarqawi was born Ahmad Fadhil Nazzal al-Khalayleh in Jordan and grew up in
the industrial town of Zarqa, east of Amman. He left in 1999 for Afghanistan,
where he remained until just after the 2001 U.S. invasion of that country, when
he moved to Iraq.
There he led a campaign of suicide bombings for three years until he was
killed Wednesday in a U.S. airstrike outside of Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad.
The U.S. military in Baghdad had no immediate comment on where al-Zarqawi's
body is or whether it would be returned to his family for burial.
There is a precedent for returning the bodies of major figures to their
families in the Iraq conflict. The military returned the bodies of Saddam
Hussein's two sons, Odai and Qusai, to their relatives after they were killed in
a gunbattle with U.S. forces in 2003. The brothers were buried in Saddam's home
region of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.
After the Amman bombings, al-Zarqawi's family and broader clan, the Bani
Hassan, took out newspaper ads publicly renouncing their ties to him. But with
his death, many in the town were calling him a martyr in sympathy with his cause
¡ª if not all his actions.
"We are with jihad (holy war), but we cannot accept any crime against our
country," said Sheik Hassan, gathering with other worshippers outside the town's
al-Khalidi mosque after Friday prayers.
"Even if he was a criminal and was killed by the Americans or the Jews, he is
considered a martyr," said shop owner Mohammed Hassan al-Najjar.
But Khaled Tolash, an English teacher, didn't qualify his contempt for
"We thank God that a criminal has vanished from the earth," he said. "What
awaits him now for his judgment is the justice of God."