BBC Online – 2006-06-08 23:00:54
How Zarqawi Was Found and Killed
(June 9, 2006) — A man described as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s “spiritual adviser” inadvertently led US forces to the spot where the militant leader was finally located and killed, the US military says.
Major General William Caldwell said the operation to track down the most wanted man in Iraq was carried out over many weeks, before two US air force F-16s killed him with a bombing raid on a house in a village north of Baghdad.
“The strike last night did not occur in a 24-hour period. It truly was a very long, painstaking deliberate exploitation of intelligence, information gathering, human sources, electronic, signal intelligence that was done over a period of time — many, many weeks,” he said.
He said a tip from someone in Zarqawi’s network put US forces on the trail of Sheikh Abd-al-Rahman, the militant’s “spiritual adviser”.
He would not say when they received this tip, but said they had clear evidence about a month-and-a-half ago that began the process that led them to identify the safe house where Zarqawi was eventually killed.
Gen Caldwell said Wednesday night was the first time US forces had “definite unquestionable information” they could strike the target without causing collateral damage to civilians.
“We had absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Zarqawi was in the house,” he said. “We knew from having watched the movements of Abd-al-Rahman that he was there too.”
Once the target had been identified, two F-16 jets were dispatched towards the small house in a palm grove 8km (five miles) north of the town of Baquba.
The lead aircraft dropped a 500lb bomb, and then the aircraft returned for a second run, with the second jet dropping another similar bomb.
“Following this strike Iraqi security forces, specifically Iraqi police, responded to that location, they were the first ones to arrive on the scene,” Gen Caldwell said.
They were followed “very shortly thereafter ” by US ground forces, who “swept through the site and identified six persons that had been killed in that strike at that time”. The dead included a woman and a child, and two others still to be identified.
Zarqawi’s body was taken a secure location. “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 which we knew about him.
“They then did fingerprint identification and that came back at about 0330 this morning as positively identified as Zarqawi having been killed.” DNA analysis could be completed within 48 hours.
Zarqawi’s death allowed coalition forces to go after his network – those people who had been used to establish his movements, patterns and habits, Gen Caldwell said.
Coalition and Iraqi forces moved quickly, conducting 17 simultaneous raids in and around Baghdad within hours of Zarqawi’s death.
“And in those 17 raids last night a tremendous amount of information and intelligence was collected. It is presently being exploited and utilised for further use. I mean it was a treasure trove, no question,” the general said.
Wanted Militant Dies in Gaza Raid
A senior Palestinian official in the Gaza Strip has died in an Israeli air strike in the town of Rafah. Jamal Abu Samhadana founded the Popular Resistance Committees, which regularly launches home-made rockets into Israel.
Samhadana, a senior security chief in the Hamas-led government, was one of four killed in the attack on a training camp, which injured seven others.
He was one of Israel’s most wanted men in Gaza, and was thought to be involved in a 2003 attack on a US convoy.
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