Thursday, September 23, 2004

Zarqawi's Cleric Killed

According to the Boston Globe, Zarqawi's "spiritual leader", has been killed in a US airstrike:

The spiritual leader of the group believed to have beheaded two American hostages in Iraq this week has been killed in a U.S. airstrike, his family and Islamic clerics said Wednesday.

The death of Sheik Abu Anas al-Shami is a blow to Iraq's most active militant group, Tawhid and Jihad, which is led by Jordanian-born militant Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, experts said. But they add that such groups manage to survive, with other militants replacing the slain ones.

Al-Shami, a Palestinian who holds Jordanian citizenship, was killed Sept. 17 when a missile hit the car in which he was traveling in a western Baghdad suburb, said the clerics, who have close ties to the family and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Al-Shami's father, Youssef Jumah, said he learned of the death Monday from his eldest son Jumah, who lives in the United Arab Emirates. He declined to say how his son was informed.
That last line is interesting in light of these two posts by Belmont Club on the importance for taking down terrorist cells of understanding social networks:
While U.S. forces up to then had been preoccupied with finding "high value targets" from the Bush administration's list of the top 55 most-wanted Iraqis, Odierno said those family diagrams led his forces to lower-level, but nonetheless highly trusted, relatives and clan members harboring Hussein and helping him move around the countryside.
I am not sure if the targeting of Al-Shami is a step toward the larger goal of taking out Zarqawi, or if Al-Shami's death is a terminal of this particular line of inquiry. But it seems like a hopeful sign in either case.

UPDATE: Similar thoughts at PowerLine:
Reader Mark Sebald draws our attention to this article from today's Washington Times: "Zarqawi's mentor said to be killed by a U.S. hit." The Times reports:
The Muslim cleric responsible for the practice of beheading hostages in Iraq — including two Americans this week — has been killed in a U.S. air strike, a newspaper and Islamic clerics said yesterday. The Muslim cleric, Sheik Abu Anas Shami, 35, was killed when a missile hit the car he was traveling in on Friday in the western Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib.

Mr. Sebald observes:
Notice any similarities to the way Israel takes out terrorists? To me this is good news. It implies that U.S. forces are developing intelligence sources and making progress fighting the insurgents. I had thought there would be some reaction to this by now, but so far I haven't seen any.

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