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Monday, October 25, 2004

ZARQAWI: MYTH OR SUPERMAN? 

THE OCTOBER SURPISE?
By Jack Random

We have heard the name Abu Musab Zarqawi all too often in recent weeks. We have heard it in connection with suicide bombings, beheadings and, just today, with the massacre of some 48 new Iraqi Army recruits near the Iranian border. In a recent New Jersey appearance, the president expounded on the subject in a manner reminiscent of his Saddam tirades. It seemed an odd choice for the president since Zarqawi was one the keynotes of Colin Powell’s now notoriously discredited United Nations presentation to justify the war in Iraq.

As I wrote at the time: “Of all the half truths and misleading statements uttered by our Secretary of State, the most insidious was the assertion that an Al Qaeda training camp was operative in northern Iraq. The question immediately arose: If we knew of an active Al Qaeda camp in Iraq, in a region controlled by the Kurds under American and British protection, why then had we not eliminated it? The obvious answer is that it was more important to fabricate an Iraqi Gulf of Tonkin (the lie that committed us to the Vietnam War) than to eliminate a direct terrorist threat.” (Jazzman Chronicles, Volume II: The War Chronicles, Crow Dog Press 2004)

Although the claim that it was an Al Qaeda camp was pointedly false, the president’s audience should be curious to learn that the Pentagon drew up plans to wipe out the Ansar al-Islam camp and the mastermind Zarqawi on no less than three separate occasions (June 2002, October 2002, January 2003). On each occasion, the White House refused to grant approval. Why? The only reason given was offered in a report by NBC on March 2, 2004: “the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.”

So why are we hearing so much about Zarqawi now? Is he in fact the be-all and end-all of the Iraqi resistance? Not according to Iraqi-born terrorism expert Mustafa Alani: “Everybody blames Zarqawi but I think it’s a series of assumptions. It’s of great publicity value to say he is trying to stir a civil war. With all the attacks they blame him for, he’s either superman or a myth.” (LA Times, March 7, 2004)

The question remains: Why? The administration is clearly promoting Zarqawi as the new face of our enemy. He is in the process of supplanting Saddam Hussein just as Saddam supplanted Osama bin Laden. Why?

Could it be that the administration’s plans for capturing the illusive Osama before Election Day have run into a few unexpected obstacles? Could it be that General Musharef of Pakistan is not in position to deliver the goods? Is the White House feeling the need for an alternative October surprise?

If so, so be it.

Let us then be prepared to tell the sordid tale of Abu Musab Zarqawi. It is the story of a terrorist who owes his life to the politics of Karl Rove and the overriding need of the White House to justify an unlawful, immoral and unjustifiable war.

Let us ask the hard question: If what the administration claims is true – that Zarqawi is responsible for countless suicide bombings, beheadings and massacres – then how many lives were lost because the president needed to protect his blatantly fictitious rationale for war?

If this is, in fact, what the administration intends, frankly, we expected better. Frankly, we expected a manacled Osama to be paraded down the aisle at the Republican National Convention, bent to his knees center stage, and forced to recite “God Bless America” with an electric prod to his private parts. Frankly, knowing the extremes to which operatives will resort in times of desperation, we expected that which must not be mentioned.

As Ali said to Frazier in the Thrilla from Manila: “Is that all you’ve got?”

Jazz.

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