Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Al-Zarqawi is injured

USA Today reports Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq, blamed for numerous terror attacks on U.S. and Iraqi targets, said Tuesday in an Internet posting that its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded and called on supporters to pray for his recovery. The posting's authenticity could not be verified, but it was posted on a Web site known for carrying prior statements by al-Qaeda in Iraq and other militant groups. Indeed, it would be hard to project why this would be a fake posting. His being injured wouldn't throw security forces after him off his trail but encourage them to redouble their efforts on the theory that he has perhaps slowed down.

Asked about the reports al-Zarqawi had been wounded, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "I don't know." A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the official's work said one of the possibilities being considered is whether it was purposely misleading information. There have been several reports this month that U.S. forces were close to capturing Iraq's most-wanted terrorist.

The statement, which purportedly was from the group's media coordinator, Abu Maysarah al-Iraqi, did not say how or when al-Zarqawi was injured. Al-Iraqi is known to be the group's media coordinator, but there was no way to confirm if the statement was true or that it was posted by al-Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, has claimed responsibility for attacks on Iraqi civilians and security forces, kidnappings and beheadings of foreigners, and has a $25 million bounty on his head — the same as for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Joe Gandelman blogged You have to take a lot of the reports about the hot-on-the-trails manhunts of top terrorists with a huge grain of salt because they don't often pan out — but the latest report on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi makes sense. The report: he's injured. Why it makes sense: by all accounts he is the target of a monumental manhunt, second only to the hunt for Osama bin Laden himself.

His supporters are calling on people to pray for his recovery. I am praying he goes straight to Hell, where he can start looking for his 72 virgins.

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