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June 3, 2005
Is Zarqawi Dead?

Rumor #279b on the Zarqawi circuit now has it that the mastermind of the Iraqi al-Qaeda network has died on the operating table -- and is currently six feet under the Iraqi soil that he has bloodied so badly (via Mystery Achievement and CQ reader Soccer Dad):

The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq - died on Friday and his body is in Fallujah's cemetary, an Iraqi Sunni sheikh, Ammar Abdel Rahim Nasir, has told the Saudi on-line newspaper Al-Medina. He claims that gunfights which broke out in Fallujah in the last few days involved militants trying to protect the insurgency leader's tomb from a group of American soldiers patrolling the area.

During a telephone conversation from the city of Fallujah with the Saudi newspaper, Nasir said al-Zarqawi was taken there after being injured in the city of Ramadi around three weeks ago, and may have been treated by two doctors who had worked with his aides in Baghdad. He said the two doctors had stopped a serious haemorrhage in al-Zarqawi's intestines, but that after his condition worsened last week, the militant died on Friday.

Nasir adds that in his will the insurgent leader left the order that no funeral should be held for him and the right to announce his death should be left to the al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden.

The Al-Medina newspaper reports that it also called the headmaster of a school in Fallujah, who preferred to remain anonymous, but confirmed that many people in the city were aware of the fact that al-Zarqawi had recently been taken to the city.

I certainly hope this report is true. I also hope that the information in it leads Iraqi and American forces to locate his tomb, and to use a particular, natural method to soften the ground before exhuming the body for identification. However, these reports leave me pretty skeptical. Faking one's death makes it more convenient to move around, for one thing. For another, if he's really dead, that $25 million reward for bringing in his body would prove almost irresistable, I think, for some of the people involved in his funeral.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 3, 2005 7:08 AM

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» Is He Really Most Sincerely Dead? from Mystery Achievement
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Tracked on June 3, 2005 3:17 PM

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