The air strike that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi entailed F-16's putting two laser-guided 500-pound bombs into the house in which Zarqawi was hiding. He was not only an organizer and commander of terrorists in Iraq, but a funding source helping Osama bin Laden. Though Zarqawi's death will not end the terrorist war in Iraq, it's a huge step in that direction.
What a fine example of the U.S. forces at work. Intelligence confirmed Zarqawi was in that location in such precise and reliable terms that it was deemed to be actionable. Though not confirmed to the press, it's obvious that the intelligence was confirmed by special operations troops on the scene. Once confirmed, the bombs did the job, and the effect of the strike confirmed.
Following the confirmation of the death of Zarqawi 17 other strikes were carried out against people in Zarqawi's network we had allowed to remain at large in the hope of them leading us to their boss. Destroying so much of Zarqawi's network could well end their ability to operate in Iraq for months. The possibility does exist that remaining terrorists in an attempt to prove their remaining strength by mounting many more strikes against the Iraqi government or coalition forces in the next few days or weeks could retaliate, but it is not likely for a group at the level of effectiveness Zarqawi had to emerge any time soon.
Zarqawi was not a new target. In fact, he had literally jumped out of a pickup truck as it approached a U.S. ambush set up at a check point. He's been able to narrowly escape regularly since his arrival in Iraq in September 2002.
Intelligence sources insist that Zarqawi entered Iraq in September 2002 at Saddam's invitation and began to plan and organize a terrorist force to resist American military intervention immediately. Before Baghdad even fell to Coalition forces, terrorist fighters were pouring into Iraq. They were not only responding to Saddam's call, but to Zarqawi's as well.
Liberals will claim that Zarqawi's death is no big deal because the violence in Iraq won't end, and the Iraqi government still hasn't managed to achieve anything like gaining control of the most troubled areas of its nation. They refuse to admit that we are succeeding in Iraq. And if they finally did decide we are achieving victory in Iraq, they'd scream for us to declare victory and come home.
Zarqawi's death and disabling his network gives the Iraqi government an opportunity it hasn't had before. Perhaps the Sunnis, who have supported the insurgency since its beginning, can be made to understand that the insurgency can't restore them to the disproportionate and dominant power they had under Saddam. Perhaps. Doubtful, however, as long as Iraq's neighbors continue to do their best to prevent democracy from taking hold.
The elimination of Zarqawi is a huge blow to al Qaeda and its murderous cohorts. There are and will be many more international terrorists to hunt down and eliminate in Iraq in the coming months and years. The belief that the terrorists involved in the insurgency are invincible has been shattered. His death not only shows that we are winning the war in Iraq, but that we are winning the long-term global war on terrorism.
This is the time for the administration to restate its goals regarding the war on terror and the nations that supports terrorists. The war in Iraq is not over, not by a long shot, and democracy in Iraq cannot succeed until the terrorist nations surrounding Iraq (Syria and Iran in particular) end their support for terrorism. That is a goal we haven't even begun to achieve - but we are headed in the right direction.
Killing Zarqawi will strengthen the international coalition, and is an important reminder why the West cannot withdraw its forces from the country until the war against al Queda forces is won. Zarqawi's goal was to turn Iraq into a crucible of terror, a safe haven, training ground, and launch pad for al Qaeda operations. Zarqawi's death has set back this goal, but there can be no room for complacency. The coalition must now be even more determined to destroy the al Qaeda network in Iraq and see the mission through.
The battle between the free world and militant Islamic terrorism is fought on a daily basis on the streets of Iraqi cities, and this conflict plays a major role in shaping the future of the war on terror. A crushing defeat against al Qaeda in Iraq will be a major victory, greatly reducing the long-term threat to the United States and its allies.