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Excerpted from Biography
and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Bin Laden is not the only name out there we should all know. Zarqawi leads a terror group named Monotheism and Jihad. He is the most-wanted man in Iraq. Although there are reports to the contrary, Zarqawi is unlikely to be closely allied with al Qa'ida other than through a "common enemy." See for example from BBC: Zarqawi presumably announced:

"We announce that Tawhid and Jihad, its prince and its soldiers, have pledged allegiance to the leader of the mujahideen, Osama Bin Laden," the statement said.

It added that the pledge of allegiance was to coincide with the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan because Tawhid and Jihad agreed that Muslims must "ally together in the face of its enemies".

Earlier Zarqawi met with bin Laden and accepted his support. Their agendas overlap to a significant degree. Getting one will not affect the other. Zarqawi is best known for fueling the insurgency in Iraq. But his primary agenda is believed to remain what it always has been: Topple the monarchy in Jordan and attack Jewish targets everywhere in the world. The war in Iraq has had the obverse effect of making him more prominent by giving him easy-to-find enemies on, or next to, his own turf.

Zarqawi differs from bin Laden in that his style is to be involved in the field personally. Bin Laden stays out of site while his soldiers do the suicidal sacrifices. Many observers see them more as rivals than allies.

Zarqawi is Jordanian by birth, a member of the Bani Hassan tribe. His birth name is Ahmed Fadhil Nazzar. He renamed himself after his birthplace, Zarga, a city some 17 miles (27 Km) from Amman. His family is of modest means. He had a troubled childhood and did not finish high school. He joined the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the late 1980s. After that tour of duty, he returned home to Jordan and founded a militant group named Jund al-Sham. He was soon caught and sent to prison in 1992. His more radical beliefs developed while he was in prison.

In 1999, when King Abdullah declared an amnesty, Zarqawi was among those freed. He immediately reconstituted Jund al-Sham and put together an extensive terror plot that became known as the millennium plot. Its discovery forced Zarqawi to flee to Pakistan. Finding no welcome there he fled to Afghanistan in 2000. It was there that he met bin Laden and received money to set up his own terror training camp in Herat, near Iran. It quickly became a magnet for Jordanian militants. By Sept 2001, he had organized a terror cell in Germany, but the German police broke it up and jailed his cohorts. He rejoined the Taliban in their futile fight against the US Special Forces. He escaped as did bin Laden and mullah Omar.

He surfaced again with a small band trained in Syria. Assassins he supported killed US diplomat Laurence Foley, a senior administrator in Amman. Syria ignored extradition requests from both Jordan and the US. From Jordan, Zarqawi moved on to Iran. According to U.S. intelligence, Zarqawi traveled to Iraq in early 2002, and allegedly began associating with Ansar al-Islam, an impoverished group of 600 to 800 Iraqi Kurds whose stated goal was to secede from Saddam's Iraq so that its tiny, ethnically exclusive clan could go hide out in the mountains.

In 2003, Zarqawi again met with al Qa'ida's military chief, Ibrahim Makawi, and an Egyptian known as Saif Adel. By then, Zarqawi was focused on Iraq. British intelligence warned that he had set up a sleeper cell in Baghdad in March 2003. Their purpose was to mount a resistance movement against the US occupation.

Zarqawi's aliases include Fadel Nazzal al-Khalayleh, Fadil al-Khalaylah, Ahmad Fadil Al-Khalailah and just Habib. Intelligence officials believe Zarqawi only worked with bin Laden to further his own goals.

According to the U.S. pre-Iraq party line, Zarqawi used his "base" in Iraq to stage bombings and terrorist attacks in Turkey and Morocco.

In February 2004, the U.S. claimed it had intercepted a letter from Zarqawi to al Qaeda, outlining his strategy in Iraq and asking for reinforcements. However, the letter was quickly judged to be a forgery by just about anyone whose opinion mattered. Even Western journalists openly scoffed at the letter's authenticity, let alone the conspiracy-obsessed Arab world, which went to town over the incident. The U.S. didn't help matters by flatly refusing to discuss how it got its hands on the letter. "The important thing is that we have this document in our hands," explained Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt in February. "How it was found is not as important as the fact that we have it." Given that this administration is rarely forthcoming unless it is to their advantage and the U.S. intelligence record to date, that's a pretty iffy proposition.

Shortly after the 3/11 bombing of a Madrid commuter train, pundits began speculating on a Zarqawi link, based on comments by French terrorism investigator Jean-Charles Brisard. The most compelling reason to think this might be true is that it didn't come from the U.S. government.

Despite all the laborious U.S. efforts to prove a link, most independent experts believe Zarqawi is not operating on behalf of al Qaeda, a conclusion which the U.S. military reluctantly conceded in early 2004.

In recent media interviews with captured Ansar al-Islam operatives, the terrorists said they never laid eyes on Zarqawi (the interviewees provided other verifiable information on Ansar activities). Ansar itself has been more or less made obsolete by the U.S. invasion, which spurred an influx of thousands of foreign fighters into Iraq (some al Qaeda-linked, but others not). In early 2004, some Iraqi insurgents claimed in a leaflet that Zarqawi had been killed. Not too many people believe this to be true.

In May, 2004, Zarqawi made himself into a star of the Internet with a homemade snuff video that really got people talking. The video, released with the catchy title "Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi slaughters an American infidel with his own hands" delivered pretty much as advertised, ending with a scene of Zarqawi brandishing the decapitated head of an American civilian named Nicholas Berg.

Additional Links:
Free Republic
MSN News
News Telegraph
Winds of Change


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