Iraqi Prime Minister Al Maliki and General Casey have announced that it is official that Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi has been killed in a US Air raid. He has been positively identified by finger prints. Also killed in the raid were 7 of his henchmen.
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda-linked militant who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings, kidnappings and hostage beheadings in Iraq, has been killed in a U.S. air raid north of Baghdad, Iraq's prime minister said Thursday.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said al-Zarqawi was killed along with seven aides Wednesday evening in a house 30 miles northeast of Baghdad in the volatile province of Diyala.
"Today, al-Zarqawi was eliminated," al-Maliki told a news conference, drawing loud applause from reporters as he was flanked by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.
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.
"Those who disrupt the course of life, like Al-Zarqawi, will have a tragic end," he said.
Khalilzad added "the death of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is a huge success for Iraq and the international war on terror."
The Jordanian-born militant, who is believed to have personally beheaded at least two American hostages, became Iraq's most wanted militant, as notorious as Usama bin Laden, to whom he swore allegiance in 2004. The United States put a $25 million bounty on his head, the same as bin Laden.
Iraqi Police were first on the scene after the airstrike. And it has been reported that Jordanian officials were invoved in pinpointing his location based on some recent video tape.
Reports out of Baghdad state that information to Zarqawi's location came from local residents tipping off the Iraqi Police and Security forces. One report even says that it was a member of Zarqawi's inner circle that gave the key information.
Zarqawi was holding a meeting inside a "safe-house" about 30 miles north of Baghdad.
It is ironic that Zarqawi has been killed less than 20 miles from where Saddam Hussain was found hiding in that spider hole.
It is hoped that with the death of Zarqawi that the insurgency will start to fall apart and the differing sides in Iraq will finally come together and solve their problems.
Fox is reporting that long standing ovations and cheering at the announcement of Zarqawi's death. Even the press corps!
There is speculation that also killed in the attack was Zarqawi's #2 Sheikh Abdul Rahman. Rahman you may remember was the center of the initial insurgency.
The airstrike took place at about 1815 (6:15 pm) 7 June Baghdad time. Official announcement of Zarqawi's death didn't come until 0900 (9am) 8 June Baghdad time suggesting that there was no rush to judgement on the identification of Zarqawi's body.
Bush Congratulates the troops.
President Bush said Thursday that the death of al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is "a severe blow" to the al-Qaida terrorist network and a decisive victory in the U.S.-led war against terorrism.
"Now Zarqawi has met his end," Bush said in the White House Rose Garden. "And this violent man will never murder again."
Bush listed some of the most visible terror operations that Zarqawi led or masterminded including the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Iraq, the beheading of American hostages and the assassinatio of a U.S. diplomat in Jordan.
Bush praised the work of the U.S. military and Iraqi allies in killing Zarqawi, but was careful to point out that this singular development will not end terror attacks in Iraq.
But not everyone is celebrating. Nick Berg's father is saddened.