What's Next After Zarqawi's Death?
FILE - In this Nov. 1, 1992 file photo, Grateful Dead lead singer Jerry Garcia performs at the Oakland, Calif., Coliseum. The Grateful Dead's famous 1977 Barton Hall concert is joining Donna Summer's hit "I Feel Love" as sounds of cultural significance, among 25 additions that are being announced Wednesday, May 23, 2012 by the Library of Congress as part of its National Recording Registry. (AP Photo/Kristy McDonald, File) / KRISTY MCDONALD
Officials were reluctant to speculate about the long-term impact of al-Zarqawi's death or the future of Iraq. The White House was careful not to predict that it will hasten the withdrawal of the more than 130,000 U.S. troops there.
The White House is energized by the badly needed piece of good news, CBS News White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports. But, in the words of one senior official: "We're not delusional. Real challenges lie ahead."
Al-Zarqawi, the most wanted terrorist in Iraq with a $25 million bounty on his head, was killed when U.S. warplanes dropped 500-pound bombs on his isolated safe house northeast of Baghdad, coalition officials said Thursday.
Mr. Bush once told CBS News he kept pictures of major terrorists in his desk and put a little check next to each as they were put out of business. Officials said the president no longer has those pictures.
CBS News terrorism analyst Michael Scheuer, a former CIA officer, cautioned that al-Zarqawi's death may not stem violence in Iraq.
"In the long run, I think it's a great tactical victory; strategically it's not very important," Scheuer told CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer.
"Al Qaeda always plans for succession and the next person they put in there is less likely to be trying to provoke a civil war with the Shia, which means the Shia insurgents and the Sunni insurgents probably will refocus their efforts on American forces, British forces and the forces of the Iraqi government," Scheuer said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also said that while the death of al-Zarqawi won't end terrorism.
"Given the nature of the terrorist networks, really a network of networks, the death of Zarqawi, while enormously important, will not mean the end of all violence in that country," Rumsfeld told reporters.
"But," he added, "let there be no doubt, the fact that he is dead is a significant victory in the battle against terrorism in that country, and I would say worldwide, because he had interests outside of Iraq. He was an integral part of the war on terror."
The announcement of al-Zarqawi's death came six days after he issued an audiotape on the Internet, railing against Shiites in Iraq and saying militias were raping women and killing Sunnis and the community must fight back.
Al-Maliki said the air strike was the result of intelligence reports provided to Iraqi security forces by residents in the area, and U.S. forces acted on the information. Casey said the hunt for al-Zarqawi began two weeks ago, and his body was identified by fingerprints and facial recognition. The U.S. military also said a DNA analysis was also being performed, but emphasized there was no doubt that he was in the house that was hit.
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