Zarqawi Deputy Killed in Iraq
Abu Azzam, the number two man in Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed last night in a clash with U.S. forces.
Pentagon: Top Zarqawi Aide Killed (WTOP Radio)
The No. 2 al Qaeda leader in Iraq was killed Sunday night, U.S. officials say. Abu Azzam, reportedly the deputy to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was shot during a house rain in Baghdad, according to Pentagon officials. As the aide to Zarqawi, Azzam was reportedly in control of financing foreign fighters coming into Iraq, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. According to Pentagon officials coalition troops raided the house in response to a tip. When Azzam opened fire, these officials say, he was killed with troops’ return fire.
What effect this will have on the insurgency remains to be seen. In the past, key Zarqawi lieutenants have been killed or captured without any decrease in the number of suicide bombings.
Also Sunday, at least 33 Iraqis were killed during a day of stepped-up violence. Gunmen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ambushed an Iraqi patrol in an eastern Baghdad slum, and U.S. forces joined a 90-minute gunbattle, killing as many as eight of the attackers in the first significant violence in the neighborhood in nearly a year. There is no word as to whether these partrols were associated with the house raid that led to the killing of Azzam.
One presumes that al Qaeda in Iraq will continue to be able to recruit foreign jihadists, although there was already indication that they have been having difficulty of late. Still, the continued loss of senior leadership is something few organizations can sustain.