Arabs say insurgency will continue after Zarqawi

Several ordinary Arabs expressed hostility towards Zarqawi and welcomed his killing.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2006 16:55 IST

Arabs said on Thursday they expected insurgents in Iraq to keep fighting US troops and their Iraqi government allies despite the killing of Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

While Iraqi, US and British politicians billed the killing as a significant victory, even Arabs who called Zarqawi a terrorist said they had doubts it would have much effect.

Zarqawi was killed in a US air raid in Baquba, 65 kms north of Baghdad on Wednesday night.

"Maybe the bloodshed will decrease in Iraq now. But the problem is that whenever an extremist leader dies, he is replaced by a more radical leader," said Suheil Shehab, a Sunni employee in Beirut.

"Zarqawi is a central figure but I believe that the organisation will survive," Mustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai told the agency.

"It will have some impact on the security situation but it won't be enough. Let's not exaggerate the impact," he added.

Diaa Rashwan, an expert on Islamist groups at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, said the United States had repeatedly exaggerated the probable effect of their occasional successes in Iraq and would do so again.

"Al-Zarqawi in recent times did not represent an important element in violent operations on the ground in Iraq. Other groups which are not extreme, resistance groups not terrorist groups, have grown in strength," he told the agency.

Several ordinary Arabs expressed hostility towards Zarqawi and welcomed his killing. But just as many others said they saw him as a martyr who died fighting for the noble cause of ending the US occupation of a leading Arab and Muslim country.

"We should have no regrets over the killing of a terrorist like him. He was mutilating the image of Islam. Hopefully bin Laden is next," said Lebanese Shi'ite student Sana Abdul-Nabi, referring to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Zarqawi polarised the two Muslim communities in Iraq by adopting an aggressively anti-Shi'ite position. He drew almost all his local support from among Sunni Muslims.

But as the most prominent of the few known leaders of the Iraq insurgency, Zarqawi had acquired admirers around the Arab world, where many see the conflict in Iraq as resistance against imperialist invaders and their local collaborators.

"Whether the fighter leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was martyred or not, resistance will continue in all Islamic lands as long as occupation exists," said Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella group of Palestinian militants.

"The martyrdom of Emir (military commander) Zarqawi is a great loss. He was killing American invaders," said Ahmed Jardali, a Sunni carpenter in Beirut. "God willing, his successor will continue in his path."

"He was not a terrorist. The Americans say all people who defend their country is a terrorist. Zarqawi was an Arab and all the Arab world is one nation," said Seifallah Mohammed Nasreldin, 51, an Egyptian lawyer.

First Published: Jun 08, 2006 16:55 IST