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Terror leader al-Zarqawi 'terminated'

Jordanian-born Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, has been killed in a US air raid. Zarqawi's language of hatred

india Updated: Jun 08, 2006 20:27 IST
Agencies

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda-linked militant who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings, kidnappings and hostage beheadings in Iraq, has been killed in a US air raid north of Baghdad.

The Al-Qaeda terror network confirmed on Thursday the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, its frontman in Iraq, in a statement published on an Islamist website.

Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had announced that al-Zarqawi was killed on Wednesday evening along with seven aides. "Today Zarqawi has been terminated," he said.

The Jordanian-born militant, who is believed to have personally beheaded at least two American hostages, became Iraq's most wanted militant, as notorious as Osama bin Laden, to whom he swore allegiance in 2004.

The United States put a $25 million (about euro20 million) bounty on al-Zarqawi, the same as bin Laden.

In the past year, he moved his campaign beyond Iraq's borders, claiming to have carried out a November 9, 2005 triple suicide bombing against hotels in Amman that killed 60 people.

Zarqawi's terror-run

 

• Zarqawi's real name was Ahmed Fadhil al-Khalayleh.

• Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden appointed him as his deputy in Iraq in October 2004.

• He claimed responsibility for suicide blasts and attacks in Iraq, as well as beheadings of foreign hostages.

• He had a $25 million US bounty on his head.

• After returning from Afghanistan, Zarqawi began a violent campaign in the early 1990s to replace Jordan's monarchy with an Islamist state.

• He was jailed for 15 years in 1996 but was freed three years later under an amnesty when King Abdullah assumed the throne. 

• A Jordanian court sentenced him to death in absentia in 2002 for plotting attacks against US and Israeli targets in Jordan.

• He was again sentenced to death in  2004 for planning the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in the capital Amman in 2002.

• In 2005, Jordan's state security court handed Zarqawi his third death sentence in absentia for planning a failed suicide attack.

• Zarqawi claimed triple suicide bomb attacks that killed 60 people at luxury hotels in Amman in November 2005.

US forces and their allies came close to capturing al-Zarqawi several times since his campaign began in mid-2003.

His closest brush may have come in late 2004.

Deputy Interior Ministry Maj Gen Hussein Kamal said Iraqi security forces caught al-Zarqawi near the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

But then released him because they didn't realise who he was.

In May 2005, Web statements by his group said al-Zarqawi had been wounded in fighting with Americans and was being treated in a hospital abroad -- raising speculation over a successor among his lieutenants.

But days later, a statement said al-Zarqawi was fine and had returned to Iraq.

There was never any independent confirmation of the reports of his wounding.

US forces believe they just missed capturing al-Zarqawi in a February 20, 2005 raid in which troops closed in on his vehicle west of Baghdad near the Euphrates River.

His driver and another associate were captured and al-Zarqawi's computer was seized along with pistols and ammunition.

US troops twice launched massive invasions of Fallujah, the stronghold used by Al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters and other insurgents west of Baghdad.

An April 2004 offensive left the city still in insurgent hands, but the October 2004 assault wrested it from them.

However, al-Zarqawi -- if he was in the city -- escaped.