Al-Zarqawi Killing: More Harm Than Good?


June 8, 2006 — -- The world is reacting in various ways to the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. While reactions in the United States express relief, resolve and a hope for peace, reactions overseas remain mixed.

"If Sheik al-Zarqawi has died, he will go to heaven, God willing, and there will be 200 million al-Zarqawis after him" -- ominous words from one Islamic extremist Web site posted in an al-Qaeda clearinghouse shortly after the news of al-Zarqawi's death.

But laments over the demise of al-Zarqawi are not confined to Web sites -- they're also on overseas airwaves.

On Arabic-language networks Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, some experts in the Middle East have said this killing represents a victory, a step toward attaining security in Iraq, while others believe al-Zarqawi's death could cause more harm than good.

ABC News' Arabic interpreter Rhonda Webster has been translating Arab-world sentiment and said Iraqi experts, for the most part, admit that al-Zarqawi represented a group that lives according to an ideology that has spread to many countries. Webster said the early signs seem to indicate that Iraqi civilians will most likely not experience much change as a result of al-Zarqawi's killing.

Depending on whom you ask, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death won't necessarily improve the situation in the war on terror.

Hassan Salman, an Iraqi expert from Beirut, Lebanon, said, "I think al-Zarqawi's followers and Islamic groups will increase their violence and attacks following today's events in Iraq and worldwide."

Also from Beirut, Saddam al-Boud, president of the National Front for Iraqi People, told Al Jazeera, "The death of al-Zarqawi will not mark any decrease in the resistance operation. The resistance will continue and become stronger, but the perpetrators will be fought until Iraq is liberated."

Echoing al-Boud's feelings, Taliban spokesman Mohammed Hanif said, "[Al-]Zarqawi's death will not affect our activity in Afghanistan or the activities of our Muslim brothers in Iraq or in the rest of the world."

And what about the potential good that can emerge as a result of al-Zarqawi's death?

According to Amer al-Shobaki, a Cairo, Egypt, expert on Islamic groups, the al-Zarqawi killing marks the end of a military leader and political symbol. "Al-Zarqawi played a major role in the mujahedeen groups and symbolized a trend that's becoming more globalized. His death will decrease the extremity of violence, maybe, but will not end violence in Iraq."

Al-Shobaki added that with al-Zarqawi eliminated, the Iraqi government would be hard-pressed to use him as a scapegoat for terrorist activities anymore.

In another positive reaction to al-Zarqawi's death, Iraqi Saad Jawad Kandil, president of the High Committee of Islamic Revolution -- in an interview with Al Jazeera -- congratulated the Iraqi people. He said the day of al-Zarqawi's killing was a "victorious day" for Iraq because now Iraqis will have more security in their own country.

Leaders of the nations that have led and participated in the invasion and occupation of Iraq have praised the killing of al-Zarqawi, calling it a blow to al Qaeda. However, many leaders still warned that al-Zarqawi's network of lieutenants might step in to carry out his campaign of death and destruction in Iraq.

In a press conference, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the death of al-Zarqawi is a strike against al Qaeda in Iraq and a strike against al Qaeda everywhere.

Yet Blair remained reserved about what the public should expect from the killing. "We should have no illusions. We know that they will continue to kill. We know there are many, many obstacles to overcome, but they also know that our determination to defeat them is total."

Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said al-Zarqawi's death is a hopeful sign that security is improving. "I hear that Iraqis gave out the information to cooperate in cracking down [on] terrorism. So, I think it was a step forward." Japan has 600 troops in southern Iraq, performing humanitarian missions in support of the U.S.-led coalition.

Australiaian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said, "I am delighted that al-Zarqawi has been killed. I think this is a tremendous tribute to the new Iraqi government and let me also pay tribute to the Americans and the American forces who, of course, played a part in this, as well."

Comments in Arabic translated by Rhonda Webster, ABC News

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