Breaking: U.S. close to capturing Zarqawi? (updated with video)

posted at 1:34 pm on May 4, 2006 by Allahpundit

*Video below.*
*Download the video from the CENTCOM website. Part 1 and Part 2. (Use IE.)*

Major General Rick Lynch says they’ve got a hot lead. Could be nothing, could be something, but ABC News has a report about a recovered videotape too.

Update: Note this from the ABC story:

In blooper-type footage from a Zarqawi video released last week, the al Qaeda in Iraq leader is seen fumbling with a machine gun…. Lynch said Zarqawi decided not to publicize the piece, which shows him decked out in New Balance sneakers. In it, he said, Zarqawi had trouble firing his automatic weapon and needed assistance from an aide, and his associates “do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves.”

Update: The military has released images from the tape. As Mandy Patinkin said in The Princess Bride, “Humiliations galore.”

The ABC link says the video was recovered in the Youssifiyah area, 12 miles south of Baghdad.

Update: Bill Roggio is covering the story at the Counterterrorism Blog, and reminds readers that he wrote about Zarqawi’s apparent discomfort with the machine gun back when the tape first aired.

Update: Keep your eye on Getty Images. If experience is any guide, they’ll be the first with vidcaps. There’s some stuff already from Lynch’s briefing already posted over there now.

Update: Reuters reports. “Zarqawi is zooming in on Baghdad, we are zooming in on Zarqawi.”

Update: More details about the recovered documents from the AP:

“We believe that he is getting facilitation for foreign fighters and funds out of Syria” and that his focus of operations is currently in the Baghdad area, Lynch said.

“He is focusing his efforts inside of Baghdad. Baghdad is his center of gravity,” Lynch said.

That belief was supported by a series of planning documents also seized in the raids in the Youssifiyah area raids, which was used as a staging area for the suicide attacks, he said.

The documents spelled out al-Zarqawi’s strategy in Iraq – focusing on the Baghdad area and targeting the Shiite majority while reducing the number of attacks in Sunni Arab areas.

Update: Here he is. Hi-larious. Watch the turd in the mask raise his arm in triumph when the great warrior finally manages to squeeze off a few.

Fox has the full story, as well as a four-minute video report. Click and view.

Update: Here’s a quick-hits list of recent articles about Zarqawi and AQ that make his imminent capture/killing less far-fetched than it’s been before.

Meanwhile, Confederate Yankee says the video has damaged Zarqawi’s mystique. Me, I’m not so sure.

Update: Everything you wanted to know about Task Force 145 but were afraid to ask. Once again, from Bill Roggio at the Counterterrorism blog. Murderers’ row:

– TF-145 is comprised of Army Delta Operators, Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Rangers, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron, British Special Air Service, and British paratroopers. Left out are the myriad of intelligence assets likely assigned to TF-145.

Update: Nothing yet about this on JihadTV’s website. Go figure.

Update: ABC News says it’s obtained one of the documents seized in the raid on the safe house. Pretty much the same stuff AQ has been doing all along — provoke sectarian tension by killing Shiites — except the emphasis is on Baghdad now. But here’s the interesting part:

The document complains that the losses of American forces in Baghdad “are hardly worth mentioning” compared to American losses in the Western provinces. And, in the concluding paragraph, the document says the “rank and file” of the mujahideen in Baghdad know their leadership does not have “a broad view” or “a well-knit plan” and that “this has led to strategic losses for us.”

Dare I say it? It sounds like … a quagmire.

Somewhere right now in Saudi Arabia, the jihadi equivalent of Andrew Sullivan is whining on some message board about the insufficient number of mujahedeen in the field.

Oh — ABC also confirms that it was indeed Task Force 145 that recovered the docs. Sweet.

Update: Via the Belmont Club, here’s Barry McCaffrey, war skeptic, just back from Iraq:

The foreign jihadist fighters have been defeated as a strategic and operational threat to the creation of an Iraqi government. Aggressive small unit combat action by Coalition Forces combined with good intelligence – backed up by new Iraqi Security Forces is making an impact. The foreign fighters remain a serious tactical menace. However, they are a minor threat to the heavily armed and wary U.S. forces. They cannot successfully stop the Iraqi police and army recruitment.

He calls the Iraqi Army “a brilliant success story.”


Update: Rusty Shackleford tells me that the video is now available at the CENTCOM homepage. Click to download part 1 and part 2. (Use Internet Explorer.)

Update: Did CNN make excuses for Zarqawi’s bumbling? Or did they get it right? You make the call!

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“do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves.”

HAHA sounds like a bad skit.

Travis on May 4, 2006 at 1:50 PM

Yep, just saw the footage on fox news.. looks like he never held a weapon before.. It still amazes me that these guys think they have a chance against the US military.

RobertCSampson on May 4, 2006 at 1:57 PM

Can anyone tell what it was he was firing? Looked like a SAW.

E5infantry on May 4, 2006 at 2:03 PM

Prayer for our Troops:

God bless our troops and give them the courage, wit, and power to destroy all the terrorists, especially Zarqawi and Bin Laden.

Richard Davis on May 4, 2006 at 2:50 PM

That was a indeed a M249 SAW, and from what I can tell, Zarqawi is unable to diagnose and clear a simple stovepipe jam, where a cartridge case turns sideways and doesn’t fully eject, keeping the bolt from closing.

This tells me Zarqawi is unfamiliar with this weapon, and perhaps rusty in using weapons in general. Stovepipes are among the most common of malfunctions in semi-automatic and automatic weapons, and if it was a stovepipe, it should take about a second to diagnose and clear. It seems that is exactly what his helper did in the video, which was accomplished by simply racking the slide.

If he is that unfamiliar with a common weapons malfunction, I wonder just how many combat actions he has actually participated in.

Is Musab al-Zarqawi a paper tiger? We don’t have enough data to answer that question, but with this film, we now have enough to bring it up.

Bob Owens on May 4, 2006 at 3:05 PM

How did he get a SAW? Are they readily available?

If he can’t handle the SAW, maybe we ought to just send him a care package with a MK19 and let him try to figure that puppy out. Might dispose some of our problems in a hurry.

E5infantry on May 4, 2006 at 3:11 PM

They’ve lost several after IED explosions where they were more focused on getting wounded soldiers to the rear than immediately securing all ordinance, and I’m sure some could have been captured or stolen at some point in three years of war.

They are available on the open market and carried by other militaries around the world as well, so there is a slight chance it could have been purchased instead of captured.

Bob Owens on May 4, 2006 at 3:18 PM

Z-man also waves the business end of his weapon directly at one of his idiot henchmen–the same fool who later grabs the barrel. What a bunch of tools.

Otoh, liberals may just find this tape endearing since it shows that Zarqawi is inexperienced with guns.

Bryan on May 4, 2006 at 3:37 PM

Does he even know which end of the weapon he is to hold? He looks very inept and foolish. Heard he’s wearing Nike tennis shoes too.

And we can’t nab this buffoon?

doingwhatican on May 4, 2006 at 5:41 PM

Al-Qaeda Bloopers?….

Terlizzi999 on May 4, 2006 at 5:52 PM

Be fair. How much live ammo do they have to waste on training?

S. Weasel on May 4, 2006 at 6:19 PM

I hope it gets edited nicely and distributed widely throughout Iraq. Perhaps amended with some of the documents that came out of the safe house.

neandertal on May 4, 2006 at 6:23 PM

Funny stuff, but I’m not big on the “US close to capturing Zarquawi” headline. When he’s caught, he’s caught. These stories about how we were *this* close serve no real purpose.

Number 2 on May 4, 2006 at 7:33 PM

Arab shame alert. Very dangerous.

pat on May 4, 2006 at 7:54 PM

Walter Cronkite would have declared this video proof as to why we are losing the war and need to retreat.

gary on May 4, 2006 at 8:34 PM

Gee. Even I can fire a machine gun. And I’m a chick. Well, a “Renaissance Chick.” I suppose that might make a difference.

Princess Bernie on May 4, 2006 at 8:53 PM

I won’t celebrate until he is in prison – or in the grave.

dman on May 4, 2006 at 8:55 PM


I’d rather not see him in prison. His dead body is my preference.

Princess Bernie on May 4, 2006 at 8:57 PM

I once saw a painting of a grizzled old mountain man astride his horse, overlooking a steep precipice, with his rifle slung across his saddle. Peering down over the edge of the cliff, he had removed his hat and was scratching his head with a puzzled look on his face. About 10 feet down the edge of the rock wall was a sole surviving tree trunk that looked to have long since given up its attempt to flourish. Draped across the tree stub was a dead mountain lion; a single bullet hole in its chest. The caption under the painting: “Meat ain’t meat till its on the table.” So it is with the speculative talk about how close we are to capturing or killing Zarqawi.

Until Zarqawi is shwon being taken from whatever “hidey-hole” he may be hiding in – or we see the pictures of his lifeless body (as we did the Hussein boys), we cannot assume he is anything but the active agent of evil we know him to be.

We must continue to pray for the protection of our men and women. They have chosen the noble profession of a warrior that results in their lives being in imminent danger as they track down this killer and his agentss of death.

Acts20:24 on May 4, 2006 at 10:06 PM

I see Hollywood decided to remake “F-Troop”

Richard Davis on May 4, 2006 at 10:15 PM

Could you imagine what’s happening to the
poor idiot that left that video snippet behind…?
Help!…I can’t stop laughing…

attila the cuban on May 4, 2006 at 10:48 PM

The NRA may like to use this as a new gun-safety training video.

gary on May 5, 2006 at 5:05 AM

Bob Owens,

A minor correction, an ordinance is what a city council passes, and ordnance are all things that go boom!

You’re aboslutely right about the stovepipe!

rightside on May 5, 2006 at 7:07 AM

Oh just wait.

Zarky’s gonna get smoked.

Gotta believe the boys have his scent, now they’re just putting cheese in the trap.

I’m just wondering if they catch him alive, who will be the first dope over here to say it is staging for a photo-op during an election year.

Not a thank you, but hey, you caught him to make us look bad.

formercorpsman on May 6, 2006 at 12:15 AM

F-Troop! Bwahahahaha! Good one Richard!

Our Guys oughta boobytrap some weapons and drop ’em during any encounter. Pretend to retreat then watch hilarity ensue. The enemy will be so excited to get new weapons. As soon as they pull the trigger it’s off to ‘paradise’ and 72 horney pigman demons. Film the whole thing and post it on islamic websites.

islamic websites? Uh, shouldn’t that be an oxymoron? lf they practice what they preach.

Ahmahjihadistdingdong is next. Ya want nukes? Here, have one of ours, no charge! The people of lran want freedom and they shall have it.

Condi’s 1st term agenda:

1) Close the border

2) Do Syria (Air / Land)

3) Do Sudan (Air)

4) Reposition B2’s & B1’s closer to N. Korea then resume negotiations

5) Cut taxes

Tony737 on May 6, 2006 at 8:23 AM

Tony737 – your agenda was great and I absolutely agree!

One question, How come you didn’t include “Do Iran (Air/land)?” (oversight?)

Like my 82-year old, devout Catholic, and former devout Democrat said on Sept 12, 2001, very somberly – “There’s only one way to stop these people, we have to kill them all. Turn their countries into parking lots” (my head snapped with astonishment when she said it, but she was dead serious, and she is oh so right!

I love ya MOM!

Richard Davis on May 6, 2006 at 6:18 PM

Why Kill the man who brings so many “lambs” to slaughter? Let him keep importing the “righteous.” We have alot of MK series bombs that need to be expended. Shelf life is a bitch!

reflexx on May 7, 2006 at 2:55 AM

Like all radicals who send ‘disposables’ (suicide bombers) to fight the great ‘fight’, Zarqawi proves he is nothing but a wanker and a little mommy’s boy.

Great White on May 7, 2006 at 4:43 AM

Why have 10 000 nukes and not use just one iddy-biddy one, just one on this loser and his sponsor, Iran? C’mon, just one. Pleeezzz..?

Great White on May 7, 2006 at 4:45 AM

Richard, that was the 1st term agenda for President Rice, lran will have already been done by ’09. lf you look above Dr. Condi’s to do list you’ll see lran.

Bush will deal with Amajamawhatshisface before Condi takes the oath of office.

I included close border ’cause it doesn’t seem like Bush wants to. lf we lose any seats in the midterms it’ll be a result of the open borders.

Condi ’08!

Tony737 on May 7, 2006 at 9:41 AM