Zarqawi Dead; Most Beautiful of His 72 Virgins Light Candles, Put on KennyG Album
Zarqawi is dead.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the coalition's most wanted man in Iraq, was killed in an airstrike near Baquba, jubilant U.S. and Iraqi authorities announced Thursday.
Al-Zarqawi's death gives Iraq a chance to "turn the tide" in the fight against the nation's insurgency, President Bush said at the White House.
"The ideology of terror has lost one of its most visible and aggressive leaders," Bush said. "Zarqawi's death is a severe blow to al Qaeda." (Watch bombing run that killed al-Zarqawi -- 2:00)
"Zarqawi personally beheaded American hostages and other civilians in Iraq," Bush said. "Now Zarqawi has met his end and this violent man will never murder again."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said al-Zarqawi's death will have "worldwide" effects. "Let there be no doubt the fact that he is dead is a significant victory in the battle against terrorism in that country, and I would say worldwide because he had interests well outside of Iraq."
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell detailed the strike, saying two Air Force F-16s dropped two bombs on a safe house near Baquba on Wednesday night. (Map of target)
Six people including al-Zarqawi and a key lieutenant, spiritual adviser Sheik Abd-al-Rahman, were killed in the strike, the military said. Iraqi forces were the first to arrive at the scene, Caldwell said.
"Zarqawi's body was then removed, brought back to a secure location," Caldwell said. "By visual identification it was established that that probably was him.
"But they ... did further examination of his body, found more scars and tattoos consistent with what had been reported and what we knew about him. They then did a fingerprint identification, and that came back ... this morning as positively identified as Zarqawi having been killed."
"We have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Zarqawi was in the house," Caldwell said. "It was 100 percent identification." Even so, DNA testing will be conducted, he said.
During a jubilant announcement early Thursday in Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials first revealed the news to reporters.
The 3-year-old insurgency has "lost its leader," said U.S. Gen. George Casey, the highest-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq. Casey was joined during the announcement by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. (Watch the celebration following the announcement -- 4:31)
A Web site used by Al Qaeda in Iraq confirmed al-Zarqawi's death and urged its followers to continue the insurgent fight.
Another Web site used by the group issued a statement: "People of Islam, God will not let our enemies celebrate and spread corruption in the ground. Expect the right that was stolen to come back to us and destroy the Crusaders" -- an apparent reference to U.S. troops in Iraq.
CNN could not verify the authenticity of the Web messages.
In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair called al-Zarqawi's death "a very important moment in Iraq. A blow for al Qaeda in Iraq is a blow for al Qaeda everywhere."
Al-Zarqawi was the self-proclaimed leader of one of the nation's many insurgent factions -- al Qaeda in Iraq --who pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden.
He had a $25 million bounty on his head, led foreign and Iraqi fighters in a series of dramatic and high-profile attacks against U.S. and Western targets and was seen as leader of one of the factions in Iraq that fomented sectarian strife between the Sunni and Shiite communities.
His killing is a major coup for the embattled coalition forces.
"Today is a good day," U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Khalilzad said at the news conference. "Zarqawi has been killed."
Khalilzad called al-Zarqawi "the godfather of sectarian killing and terror in Iraq" -- and said the death "marks a great success for Iraq and the global war on terror."
"His organization has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians in Iraq and abroad."
(hat-tip: hans ze beeman)
[UPDATE: Welcome new readers from LGF, Hot Air, and others. To commemorate the absurd flow of traffic today, I think a trip down memory lane is in order. Let's go back to when The Onion had not yet fallen victim to Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) and gave the country exactly what it needed -- a laugh -- after the most horrific crime perpetrated against America in 60 years : "Hijackers Surprised to Find Selves in Hell." And now they welcome their pal Zarqawi to their midst. May they all not rest in peace.]
[UPDATE: It's official: The Z-Man has begun his holy bliss with these lovely girls, according to a top Islamic cleric. Glad all that innocent-head choppin', marriage-blowing-up, and children killin' is paying off for you, big guy.]