Zarqawi, Zarqawi, Zarqawi

A useful report on Zarqawi’s death which suggests his death may not be the end of it, by my old college mate Shaun Waterman at UPI:

“Daniel Byman, an analyst at the Georgetown University School of Foreign
Service, said that uncertainty was due in part to differing views about
exactly how unified the movement Zarqawi led was. “The assessments (of
expert observers) about how much control Zarqawi really had varied from
‘He was instrumental,’ to ‘He was just the guy we knew about, but not
especially important,'” Byman told UPI.

“A U.S. counter-terrorist official told UPI that al-Qaida in Iraq was
“fairly decentralized” and that Zarqawi had “laid out strategy (for the
whole movement) but depended on regional emirs to conduct operations on
a day-to-day basis.”

“But he said the “street credibility and charisma” that shaped Zarqawi’s
relationships with other leading militants across the country would not
be easily duplicated. “They are scurrying to deal with his loss,” the
official said. “They may have identified a successor but it is not going
to be easy to replace someone with those attributes.”

“The official suggested that using a new alias might be a way of trying
to protect the new leader, given the reports that Jordanian intelligence
had penetrated the organization. “They could be figuring it might not be
prudent to disseminate the real name” yet, he said.

“Anytime you have leadership change in a violent underground
organization there’s the potential for splits,” added Byman when asked
about Bartlett’s remarks.

“But he cautioned the news might not be all good, saying Zarqawi’s
leadership “may have at times been counter-productive” for the jihadi
movement, because of his “sectarianism and exceptionally violent

“It’s possible a better leader may emerge” to succeed Zarqawi, he said.”