Zarqawi's death will spark more violence: Ex-aide | india | Hindustan Times
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Zarqawi's death will spark more violence: Ex-aide

Khalid Khawaja, a former close aide, described Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death as a 'martyrdom'.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2006 17:55 IST

A former close aide to Osama bin Laden and two Pakistani militants described Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death as a "martyrdom" and said on Thursday it would spark retaliatory attacks across Iraq.

Khalid Khawaja, a former Pakistani intelligence officer who aided militants like bin Laden during the "holy war" against the Soviets in Afghanistan, said al-Zarqawi's killing won't end the "jihad" being fought against US-led coalition forces in Iraq.

"Al-Zarqawi's martyrdom is not going to weaken the jihad (holy war) in Iraq," Khawaja said.

"Rather, you will soon see more retaliatory attacks by his successors."

The Pakistani government, however, hoped the Jordanian-born militant's killing on Wednesday in a US attack northeast of Baghdad will blunt the violence ravaging Iraq.

"It (his death) is a significant development in the war on terrorism and Pakistan continues to hope that the security situation will, particularly now, improve," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.

Deeply Islamic Pakistan has for decades had strong ties to Islamic militants, particularly during the 1978-89 Soviet occupation of neighbouring Afghanistan.

Pakistan, backed by US funding, garnered support and weapons to anti-Soviet mujahideen and helped militants like bin Laden force the Russians from Afghanistan.

A leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, an Al-Qaeda linked outlawed militant group, said Muslims from many countries had gone to Iraq to fight in the holy war against the Americans and al-Zarqawi's death won't stop this.

"The killing of one leader cannot weaken the jihad because many more leaders will rise," said the militant in a telephone interview.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears that he could be captured by Pakistani security forces.

"We don't think al-Zarqawi's death will play any significant role in quelling insurgency," said another Pakistani militant from the Kashmir-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba group.

Pakistan is a key US ally in its war on terror and has arrested more than 750 Al-Qaeda suspects, including bin Laden's several top associates.

But the Al-Qaeda leader himself remains at large and is believed to be hiding some where near the Pakistan-Afghan border.