Friday, December 09, 2005
Foreign Policy takes a deep look into Zarqawi. I still don't know who I really think he is: Muslim extremist terrorist, or leader of the Sunni Civil War against the U.S./Shiites. We both need the mutually convenient myth of him being the terror leader as much as he does.|
But, of course, Zarqawi is no longer a mere foot soldier. From New York to London, from Paris to Tokyo, Zarqawi has become the new face of Islamic terror. He has replaced Saddam Hussein as the poster boy of evil in the Arab world. He commands a cadre of Iraqi insurgents that have purportedly carried out many of the barbarous terrorist attacks in that country since the ousting of Saddam. Now with a $25 million bounty on his head, this high school dropout from the slums of Jordan has tied the United States down in its deadliest conflict since the Vietnam War.
But how did myth become reality? Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. government had never heard the name Zarqawi. The first time U.S. officials learned of his existence was near the end of 2001, from the Kurdish secret service. The U.S. government knew little about the 35-year-old Jordanian, but they had much to gain from the creation of his myth. At the time, Saddam’s regime stood accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorist outfits. Without hard proof of the former, Saddam’s support of terror was the only trump card the Bush administration had to convince the world that the Iraqi dictator had to go. To play it, the administration needed to demonstrate a link between Saddam and al Qaeda. Their link was Zarqawi.