No, not Zawahiri; this is the Iraq Number Two. As we all celebrate this minor victory (it seems almost weekly now that an “al-Qaeda #” from country X is slain) we should also ponder this far more reaching question: will the slaying of individual terrorists — be they Zawahiri or bin Laden — have any real effects on the long term goals of the jihad? Will it eliminate the theological mandate of jihad and the division of the world into two perpetually warring halves — Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb? Likening jihadis to the ever-sprouting heads of the hydra monster of legend, I tried addressing this question here, when there was a lot of hubbub about the deaths of Abu Hamza and earlier Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (who were successively al-Qaeda’s Number Twos in Iraq). So, yes; killing them off — a very good thing. But let’s also remember the differences between symptom and cause.
“Al-Qaeda’s Iraq number two killed: US military,” from AFP, October 15:
BAGHDAD (AFP) “” The US military said on Wednesday that a foreign insurgent killed in the main northern Iraqi city of Mosul this month has been identified as Abu Qaswarah, Al-Qaeda’s number two in Iraq.
“Abu Qaswarah, also known as Abu Sara, was the Al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leader of northern Iraq,” a military statement said.
It said that Abu Qaswarah, a native of Morocco who was killed in a raid in Mosul on October 5, had ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq’s founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air strike in Iraq in June 2006.
“He was responsible for organising and leading Al-Qaeda in Iraq efforts in northern Iraq, including operations against Iraqi and coalition targets in Mosul.”
The US military also described Abu Qaswarah as having trained with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and been in contact with insurgent leaders in Pakistan.
He directed the movement of foreign terrorists into northern Iraq, a position which he took up in 2007, it said.
The attack on the building in Mosul, considered by US commanders as Al-Qaeda’s last urban stronghold in Iraq, led to the death of four other insurgents as well three women and three children, the military said in an earlier report.
“As coalition forces entered the building housing the terrorist, they began receiving small-arms fire. Coalition forces returned fire once engaged,” it said.
“A terrorist detonated a suicide vest shortly thereafter in the house … Five terrorists along with three women and three children were killed.”
Also this month, US forces killed a suspected Al-Qaeda militant believed to have planned some of the deadliest bombings in Baghdad and to have killed a group of Russian diplomats in 2006.
Mahir Ahmad Mahmud al-Zubaydi, also known as Abu Assad or Abu Rami, was killed along with an unnamed woman in Baghdad’s Sunni district of Adhamiyah on Friday, a statement said.
The US said Abu Rami’s group was responsible for suicide bombings in Baghdad on Thursday.