Iraqi Group Threatens to Kill Al-Zarqawi

Talk about burying your lede: Six paragraphs into a story about yet another car bombing in Iraq, AP reports,

Also Tuesday, a group of armed, masked Iraqi men threatened to kill Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi if he did not immediately leave the country, accusing him of killing innocent Iraqis and defiling the Muslim religion. The threats revealed the deep anger many Iraqis feel toward foreign fighters, whom many consider as illegitimate a presence here as the 160,000 troops of the U.S.-led coalition.

In a videotape sent to the al-Arabiya television station, a group calling itself the “Salvation Movement,” questioned how al-Zarqawi could use Islam to justify the killing of innocents, the targeting of government officials and the kidnapping and beheading of foreigners. “He must leave Iraq immediately, he and his followers and everyone who gives shelter to him and his criminal actions,” said a man on the video.

The video marked the first time an Iraqi group made such a public threat against al-Zarqawi. It was issued a day after U.S.-led coalition forces, who have been targeting al-Zarqawi, launched an airstrike in the restive city of Fallujah on a suspected safe house used by his followers. The attack killed 15 people, witnesses said. In the video, three men, their faces covered with Arab headscarves, were flanked by rocket propelled grenades and an Iraqi flag. The man speaking had a clear Iraqi accent. “We swear to Allah that we have started preparing … to capture him and his allies or kill them and present them as gift to our people.” the man said. “This is the last warning. If you don’t stop, we will do to you what the coalition forces have failed to do.”

Al-Zarqawi, said to be connected to al-Qaida, is believed to be behind a series of coordinated attacks on police and security forces that killed 100 people only days before U.S. forces handed over power to an Iraqi interim government. His followers have also claimed responsibility for the beheading of American businessman Nicholas Berg and South Korean translator Kim Sun-il.

That Iraqis are getting tired of terrorists and foreign “insurgents” running around their country drawing the ire of the West would seem to be worthy of headline attention.

Hat tip: Memeorandum

UPDATE: Fox News has a version of the AP report with the headline Iraqi Group Threatens to Kill Zarqawi and the relevant material at the top of the story.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. pennywit says:

    Interesting. I was wondering when something like this would happen.

  2. DC Loser says:

    Call it the cynic in me, but this could be a psyops influence operation also.

  3. notefromjk says:

    This notion that the Iraqis are going to rise up and solve the security problem does not seem real to me. What kind of time frame are you talking about? How many more troops do we expend? Can we get help?

    Look, while it’s true that some Iraqis are waiting for it to get safer before they turn in insurgents, I say many if not most insurgents are Iraqis with lots of sympathy.

    Iraqi insurgents: 1) Sunni muslims, esp. Iraqi armed forces which have been noted by the Administration as coordinating & fostering attacks. These are a minority, but they aren’t insubstantial in number, they aren’t foreigners and they aren’t going away. 2) Extremist Iraqis who believe the US is decadent and power-hungry and in any case know it isn’t muslim. To figure out how many of these there are, take the number of Timothy McVeigh supporters in the United States and multiply by a factor of 10. 3) Kurds who are afraid the new government isn’t going to give them what they want. 4) Iraqis who want revenge that we have killed their people and invaded their country and who are marginally interested in one or more of the other 3 reasons. You can bet that these 4 groups – did i miss any? – represent a substantial number of insurgents. As things continue to be horribly dangerous and impoverished, the insurgents will be able to recruit new folks. That’s why talk about how it’s going to get better makes me queasy…how long? How many more dead soldiers? How much money?

    What to do about it now? Wow. More cops on the ground. Less qualms about where they come from e.g., if they’re French. Put more money in and hope that fewer lives are lost. Beg for help on any terms – it’s not our country, it needs help, we need out.

    Police work brings in terrorists. War has provided them with targets. The argument that we’re better off having terrorists kill soldiers than having them hit us here strikes me as irresponsible for several reasons – the main one being there’s nothing about boys dying in Iraq that stops bin Laden from whatever operations he wants to carry out! It was 10 years between the last Trade Center attack and this one. They’ve killed so many more over there than we could have dreamed of losing here. The possibility of another hit along the lines of 911 magnitude seems remote. Smaller hits – the same kinds we’re getting in Iraq – seem likely to me. The only reason they’re not hitting us here is they don’t want to renew sympathy or upset the current picture. The current picture works well for terrorism: ineffecitve war, ineffective peace, muslims rallying against an invader, effort and resources diverted from police action.

    Long-term violent discontent in Iraq was a clear possibility from the beginning. War in Iraq was a bad idea given the threat picture. There was no Clear and Present Danger. What danger there was may have been answerable by intel and measured response. Instead, the fear machine was turned on and we jumped into a neat war with a messy messy peace.

  4. Attila Girl says:

    I think the “Iraqi accent” might be hard to fake; I’d love to get confirmation from a ME-trained linguist that this person did appear to be a local.

    I suspect that the composition of the insurgency is heavily, heavily foreign. And I think most military people would agree that they are “hard targets,” and it’s better for them to be fighting this rather than dealing with it in shopping malls in the U.S.–mostly because soldiers and Marines can shoot back. Unless we’re going to issue M16s to young mothers (which I would love, but I believe I’m in the minority).