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Zarqawi Replaced as Leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq

The Telegraph of India reports that Abu Musab al Zarqawi was "fired."

Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the most feared commander in the Iraqi insurgency, may have been forced to surrender his leadership by rival groups, angered by his tactics and the interference of foreign fighters in the Iraqi conflict.

According to Huthayfah Azzam, the son of Abdullah Azzam, al Zarqawi's former mentor, the notorious commander of al Qaida in Iraq was stripped of his political duties at a meeting two weeks ago.

"The Iraqi resistance high command asked al Zarqawi to give up his political role and replaced him with an Iraqi because of several mistakes," said Azzam in an interview with al-Arabiya, the Arabic news channel.

"Al Zarqawi's role has been limited to military action," he said.

The fugitive al Qaida leader, who has a $25 million American bounty on his head, is credited with masterminding some of the bloodiest episodes in the Iraqi war, including suicide bombings against the UN, Shias and US forces and the videotaped execution of western and other hostages.

But his tactics have alienated many Iraqis, even those sympathetic to the insurgency. Azzam, whose father is known as the "prince of the Mujaheedin", said that he was accused of "creating an independent group" in Iraq, "making political mistakes" and hijacking the Iraqi insurgency for his own cause.

The claims could not be confirmed, but they did add to mounting evidence that al Zarqawi has been increasingly isolated over the past months because of his ruthless tactics.

However, The Dread Pundit Bluto is skeptical.

This is an indication that the Iraqi Terrorist Insurgency realizes that targeting civilians has cost them support. Perhaps they feel that they can tag Zarqawi with all the "bad" terrorist acts and regain some support. It's even possible they want to disavow Zarqawi in order eventually to pursue legitimate political goals, a là Sinn Fein.

However, the story's credibility is somewhat sketchy because both Hudayf Azzam and Abdullah bin Rashed al-Baghdadi were virtually unknown until Sunday.

The Khajeel Times says Zarqawi wasn't fired; rather, he quit:

AMMAN - Jordanian fugitive Abu Mussab Zarqawi has "voluntarily quit" as overall leader of Iraq's Al Qaeda branch to devote himself for commanding the military insurgency against US-led coalition forces, a well-informed Islamist said on Tuesday.

"Zarqawi has voluntarily quit the overall leadership to devote himself for commanding the military operations," Hothaifa Abdullah Azzam told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"The man has been so far the overall leader, and now he has assigned this post to an Iraqi man to become commander of field operations only, " he said, indicating that the overall leadership involved both political and military activities.

More from The Washington Times:

Jordanian-born al Qaeda militant Abu Musab Zarqawi has been replaced as head of the terrorist organization in Iraq in a bid to put an Iraqi figure at the head of the group's struggle, said a leading Islamist.

But terrorism specialists were divided on whether the move represented a demotion for the figure most closely identified with a wave of suicide bombings and beheadings or a move by Zarqawi to focus his efforts on a larger regional war...

...Rita Katz, a counterterrorism specialist at the Washington-based Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Institute, was one of the first Western analysts to flag Zarqawi's diminished profile. Ayman al-Zawahri, considered bin Laden's right-hand man, told Zarqawi in a June 2005 letter that Iraqis should quickly be given leadership positions in the Iraqi fight.

"This was not a demotion, as [Zarqawi] from the get-go viewed Iraq as only a springboard to the global jihad aimed to establish a worldwide caliphate," Ms. Katz said. "He must have felt the time was ripe to delegate the local Iraqi struggle to a local organization, while he continued to pursue the next stages of the plan."

She said the November hotel attack in Amman, Jordan, that killed 63 persons was seen by bin Laden and other al Qaeda strategists not as a blunder but as part of a larger plan to increase instability and tensions throughout the region. Zarqawi has long talked of sparking the sectarian tensions now evident in Iraq between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.

Comments (12)

To borrow a chess analogy, ... (Below threshold)

To borrow a chess analogy, this is castleing. I'll leave it to the bushbots for a Chutes and Ladders analogy. Good post, Kim.

You can't castle when your ... (Below threshold)

You can't castle when your king is in check, dumbass

The official statement was ... (Below threshold)

The official statement was Abu Musab al Zarqawi wanted to spend more time with his family. Osama bin Laden accepted the reignation with regrets, saying Zarqawi worked 18-hour days for the past five years ...

plebe, touche! Not! War isn... (Below threshold)

plebe, touche! Not! War isn't REALLY a game of chess. Hence my use of the term ANALOGY. I think mine holds up. Your's is too thin! And bin-ladin's wa-a-a-y over in Waziristan. Whole 'nuther board, but that's a LONG story! If you're imputing king status to Zarqawi, you're being led by the nose.

Well, I for one am glad tha... (Below threshold)

Well, I for one am glad that we have killed Al Qaeda's number 2....23 times. Now no one will take over for him. Phew!

Thats okay Brian. Don't rea... (Below threshold)

Thats okay Brian. Don't read so much into it (makes you look desperate). I was just saying that your analogy was stupid. thats all.

BTW your stupid analogy gave him "King" status.

I thought Al Quaeda had no... (Below threshold)

I thought Al Quaeda had nothing to do with Iraq and Iraq had nothing to do with 911 ?
Interesting how the 2 just kind of mesh together .. Either War makes strange bedfellows or they were already sleeping together !

plebe, No, I think you need... (Below threshold)

plebe, No, I think you need to understand that, like chess, you don't play the piece. You play the board. The US focus on Zawqari with its Vietnam-style search and destroy missions has accorded him the king status, not me. He's a rook where we thought a king should be. A protected rook versus our protected queen (I think you'll agree to this comparison of relative strength) means the rook wins the file. What made me think of castling in the first place is not the assertion of discipline upon Zarqawi by Zawahiri, but the simultaneious emergence of bin-laden's son(!) in the command structure. And though this might re-inforce the "worldwide" meme useful as propaganda by the administration, it also underlines the fatuousness of its demon-of-the-week non-strategy where battle lines are forbidden. At least Vietnam was a jungle! What's the excuse here? If W were a conservative he would realize how expensive it is to spin our wheels for the sake of political correctness, or is bankruptcy the plan?

Hmmmm.So this coul... (Below threshold)


So this could also be a like a bowl of fruit salad. You order the kiwi, but you get the cantaloupe. But you don't want the cantaloupe so you call the waiter over and ask for the kiwi. He tells you that there isn't any kiwi left since you're very late to breakfast and they're starting the lunch menu.

So there you are staring at this cantaloupe you don't want and you're still missing out on the kiwi.

Yeah this is just like that.


No bryanD, this is not a case of castling.

He's such a loser he can't ... (Below threshold)

He's such a loser he can't even keep a job as a terrorist.

Bryan, dude, shut up and le... (Below threshold)

Bryan, dude, shut up and let it go already. jeez.

The news was given to Zarqa... (Below threshold)

The news was given to Zarqawi by Sheik Abdonald al-Trump.






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