Ending Al-Zarqawi’s Jihad

June 8th, 2006

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Larry was a fairly ordinary guy – he had just turned 60 and celebrated his 34th wedding anniversary. He was an affable fellow with a decent job as an administrator – in charge of personnel and property management and the like.

In fact, he was on his way to work when two paid killers armed with a silenced 7 mm shot him in the back of the head and left him for dead.

Why would anyone shoot a guy like Larry Foley? Because Abu Musab al-Zarqawi wanted to kill an American and make a point. Larry, who worked for the US Agency for International Development in Jordan, had the bad luck to be an easy target.

Fortunately for all Americans, al-Zarqawi’s personal jihad ended on June 7, 2006 when two precision-guided bombs destroyed his hideout in Iraq.

Al-Zarqawi’s demise is a great testament to the skill of US military forces. Clues from video footage of al-Zarqawi (who was wearing his tennies and showing unfamiliarity with how to use a gun) and tips from Iraqi informants allowed US intelligence to track and locate him. The video of the US Air Force mission that followed has now been seen by millions of people around the world. US forces using sophisticated forensics were able to confirm one of the seven killed in the attack as the terrorist leader. US and Iraqi forces carried out simultaneous raids around Baghdad.

This mix of low-tech manpower and high-tech methodology is exactly the sort of counter-insurgency tactics the US needs in Iraq—and has been slow to adopt in a systematic way.

President Bush had a fairly muted reaction to the news – for him, at any rate. Could this be a result of his recent revelation that all of his tough talk has not been smart? That would be nice.

It would be even nicer, however, if the President truly understands that killing al-Zarqawi will not solve all of Iraq’s problems. Indeed, even today, as people across Iraq celebrated in the streets when they heard the news – other people just set off more car bombs, killing 19.

Bush said he’s going to Camp David on Monday to talk with his team about “the way forward in Iraq.” Let’s hope they finally find one.