Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq’s most-wanted man, is dead. This Jordanian-born terrorist, long elusive to U.S. intelligence, was considered the chief architect and the public face of the Iraqi insurgency. Blamed for dozens of attacks and thousands of deaths, he was Iraq’s most wanted man with a $25 million dollar bounty on his head. A one-time Jordanian street thug, Zarqawi was a master of disguise, able to stay one step ahead of U.S. forces: in Western clothes, in glasses, with a beard, without a beard. But he was best known for his brutality. He was the man in the mask who beheaded American Nick Berg in April 2004 – one of many executions that Zarqawi made sure was seen around the world. "It was designed to catapult Zarqawi into the front ranks of those adversaries of the United States that are seen as the most consequential. He is learning from the best, from bin Laden," said Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution with the goal of improving policy through research and analysis. U.S. officials say his influence stretched far beyond Iraq to cells in at least seven other countries. Task Force 145 narrowly missed capturing Zarqawi in April of this year, in a raid about 20 miles southwest of Baghdad. Just six weeks ago, Zarqawi appeared without a mask for the first time on one of his videotapes. He was shown firing an automatic weapon in the desert and then turning toward the camera with his message. ‘I swear to God,’ he says, ‘America will be defeated in Iraq, God willing. And it will leave the land of the two rivers,’ he continues, ‘defeated, humiliated, exhausted and disgraced.’
Six weeks later he is dead.