It didn't take long for the yackers and scribblers to start pooh-poohing the significance of the elimination of Zarqawi. The MSNBC/al-Reuters headline said it all: "Zarqawi more myth than Man." And of course, the hate-America crowd was hinting that the "timing" was peculiar (Bush needed a boost in the polls), as if killing Zarqawi was just a matter of giving the order, rather than a difficult operation made possible by the great performance of our Special Forces and the active cooperation of Sunni tribal leaders in the Anbar Province, plus the Jordanians, plus the various party leaders in Baghdad.
Whatever the explanation, the significance of this operation is enormous. It's not just about Iraq (it very much involves North America, for example), and it effectively explodes one of the most dangerous confusions about the nature of the terror network.
Zarqawi was a very important man in the terror network. I first noticed him some years ago, reading the German and Italian press. Several terrorist cells in those countries had been rounded up, and court documents showed that in both countries the network had been created from Tehran, by Zarqawi. Thus, years before we went into Iraq, Zarqawi was already a major player in international terrorism — and in recognition of his skills he was sent into Iraq as one of the organizers of the terror war against us and the Iraqi people.
Despite his intonations against the Shiites, and his manifest efforts to promote civil war in Iraq, Zarqawi was happy to work with the radical Shiite regime in Tehran, and they were happy to work with him. It is quite wrong to view him as a leader of one faction in a religious war; his promotion of religious conflict was simply a tactic designed to destabilize Iraq and drive out the Coalition. He and his Iranian backers/masters were desperate to promote all manner of internal Iraqi conflict: Kurds against Arabs, Turkamen against Kurds, anything that worked. It's "The Godfather" all over again: The terror masters put aside their differences, sat down around the table and made a war plan in which Sunni and Shia, Syrian and Saudi, Iranian and Iraqi cooperated against their common satanic enemy, the United States.
One other very important factoid emerged from the accounts of the attack on Zarqawi: we killed two women in the same house. We did it deliberately, because they were his key intelligence officers. From which two lessons should be drawn. First, women get something approaching parity in the jihadist terror organizations, despite endless citations from the holy Koran demanding their subservience. These were not suicide bombers, of which we have seen several exemplars in the past; these were important components of the terror headquarters. And second, when our soldiers enter terrorists' quarters and kill women in the ensuing firefight, remind yourself that it might have been entirely proper, since the women may have been terrorists themselves.
Zarqawi played on a global scale. Reports from Canada recount contacts between the 'home-grown' terrorists arrested by the Mounties and Zarqawi himself (See the Mississauga News, June 7: "The arrest of 17 suspects ... is said to be the latest stage in dismantling a terrorist network that's linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi..."). Those arrests seem linked to those carried out in Atlanta, Georgia, by the FBI, and to other arrests in Sarajevo, England, and Denmark. It will be surprising if we don't find Zarqawi's claw prints in several of those venues, as the Canadians have said. Remember, it was publicly announced a few months ago that Zarqawi was no longer the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, that henceforth the Iraqi Sunni "community" would run the terror war there, and that Zarqawi would devote his efforts to the international jihad. It seems he did just that — and failed.