Was Zarqawi alive when U.S. troops got there? (Update: Yes!)

posted at 9:26 am on June 9, 2006 by Allahpundit

A tantalizing tidbit buried by WaPo:

Several discrepancies emerged in various accounts of Wednesday’s events. Police and witnesses at the scene told a Washington Post special correspondent that Zarqawi was only wounded in the attack and was whisked away by U.S. forces, dying in their custody. Caldwell said he was killed instantly.

Died in American custody? Wait ’til the Huffington Post hears. I hope it’s true; the thought that the last thing he might have seen before he closed his eyes was an American soldier staring down at him is, shall we say, highly satisfactory. Gen. Caldwell is giving a briefing as I write this in which he confirmed that Z-man was alive when the Iraqi police got there, so he’s already retreated from his earlier assumption about instant death. Stay tuned.

But there are other fish to fry now. Needless to say, you don’t need 17 raids if all you’re after is the guy in charge. From this morning’s NYT:

“On a scale of 1 to 10, the intelligence gathered was about an 8,” said the official, declining to give specific details and speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject for attribution. “The next 36 to 48 hours will be very crucial in prosecuting other targets. Our goal now is to target as many Qaeda members as possible and keep them off balance.”

To boost morale, Zawahiri and Mullah Omar(!) released statements this morning praising Zarqawi. Zawahiri’s was recorded before Z-man’s death, proving once again that the only person with a greater reserve of unreleased recordings than Al Qaeda is Prince. The FBI is doing DNA tests today to confirm his identity, although they say it’s purely a formality.

The major papers have details about the raid itself, the most vivid account of which is the Times’s. It wasn’t clear yesterday whether Zarqawi was betrayed intentionally or inadvertently; the early reports said the U.S. found him by following Sheikh Abd al-Rahman to the safe house, but Rahman didn’t know he was tailing them. Today’s Times article says it was intentional — not on Rahman’s part but on the part of an anonymous tipster who told Jordanian intelligence about Rahman’s links to the big Z and suggested they might want to start watching him. The Guardian and WaPo supply names: the former says the key tipster was a deputy named Kassim al-Ani who was arrested three days ago while the latter claims the breakthrough came last month when Ziad Khalaf al-Kerbouly, another deputy, was caught. It sounds like Kerbouly is the guy the Times was talking about whereas Ani, perhaps, was the one who provided the info about the specific when and where of the meeting with Z-man.

I guess they’ll be splitting the $25 million bounty. Update: Check that. Kerbouly won’t.

Meanwhile, back in Zarqa, Jordan, the good townspeople are mourning their favorite son:

“His body will not be coming back to Zarqa,” a member of the secret police said, before telling The Daily Telegraph that it was not safe for western journalists to approach the funeral preparations.

Children had stoned reporters’ cars and relatives of Zarqawi made it clear that representatives of foreign media were not welcome.

Fadil al-Khalayleh, Zarqawi’s elder brother, also told a Palestinian journalist to go away, accusing him of associating with a non-believer.

“May God have mercy on my brother,” he said. “He is a martyr and is in Heaven. You must go; you are not safe.”

The reaction among Iraqi Shiites and Iraqi bloggers is a bit more upbeat. I have to highlight this one from WaPo, though:

[A]n argument erupted on al-Jazeera itself. One of its guests, Hassan Salman, a Beirut-based Iraqi analyst, accused al-Jazeera of organizing what amounted to condolences for Zarqawi. When the anchor, Jamil Azer, said all parties were being interviewed, including Americans, Salman retorted: “We’re not Americans, we are the Iraqi people and today is a wedding day for us. This man was a nightmare to all of us, and especially to the Sunnis.”

More from WaPo with this op-ed by Prime Minister al-Maliki and this impossibly pretentious bit of wankery from Philip Kennicott.

Update: Gen. Caldwell just said at the briefing that 39 new raids were conducted last night, mostly around Baghdad. Michael Ledeen, writing for NRO, is also impressed by the sheer scale of Wednesday’s operations, calling them “the greatest counterterrorist operation in history.”

Update: One of our commenters was watching Caldwell’s briefing and says this:

A General in Iraq said this morning on Fox that he was indeed alive and that he tried to roll off the gurney when he saw the U.S. troops come in the room. He died shortly thereafter; so you can rest assured that one of the very last things he saw was U.S. troops staring down at him.

Awesome. I’ll try to find the exact quote.

Update: That didn’t take long. Sweet schadenfreude, rain down o’er me

“Zarqawi was alive when U.S. forces arrived on the site,” Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said in a satellite interview from Iraq. “The Iraqi police arrived first, they found him in the rubble, put him on a gurney of some type.”

Caldwell, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said Zarqawi tried to roll off the gurney to escape once he became aware of the fact that he was being taken into custody by coalition troops Wednesday night after two 500-pound precision guided bombs blew up his safehouse near Baqouba.

U.S. forces immediately identified him as Zarqawi but were unable to interrogate him because he died “shortly after” being pulled from the rubble, Caldwell said.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

A General in Iraq said this morning on Fox that he was indeed alive and that he tried to roll off the gurney when he saw the U.S. troops come in the room. He died shortly thereafter; so you can rest assured that one of the very last things he saw was U.S. troops staring down at him.

Cary on June 9, 2006 at 9:36 AM

Children had stoned reporters’ cars and relatives of Zarqawi made it clear that representatives of foreign media were not welcome.
===================

So much for the “innocent” Iraqi children!

ForYourEdification on June 9, 2006 at 9:40 AM

They were Jordanian kids, FYE.

Allahpundit on June 9, 2006 at 9:45 AM

WANTED: Al-Zarqawi Dead or Dead.

pjcomix on June 9, 2006 at 9:46 AM

oh oh, we’ll have to investigate THIS – Make sure our Troops did all they could to save the PIG’s life.

We’ll have to investigate and make sure our Special Forces didn’t TORTURE him…

The Liberals will have fun with this…
The Liberals will say he had a “deprived childhood” or something and he killed him.. sniffle.

I can’t believe he was STILL Alive – he musta been DEEEEP down inside that “safe house” Two 500-pound bombs and he was still able to see our troops and try to roll away ha ha ha ..

I love the idea that he was alive and looked into the face of our Special Forces…

Oh how I wished we would have sawed off his head… (would that be WRONG – is that WRONG? because I know terrorists that do that everywhere…)

Richard Davis on June 9, 2006 at 9:56 AM

Allah:

Thank you for the correction but my point really was, that kids are only as innocent as their parents make them, which in time of war, may not be as innocent as claimed. Nothing more, nothing less.

But thanks, I always strive for accuracy. Apreciate.

ForYourEdification on June 9, 2006 at 9:58 AM

I listened to parts of the press conference on Fox this morning with the general. It was not long after the revelation that Zarqawi was alive after the bombing for the tone of the reporters questions to take on the slant of “Was medical aid rendered?”, “Did his body have any gunshot wounds?”, etc. It was very apparent the press was trying to protray an image of American forces deliberately killing or allowing him die to stick to their military bashing theme. Looks at the headlines today. Most papers question whether killing him was a good thing and may have hampered our efforts.
This scum is dead and other then Hamas, his family, and memebers of Al-Queda, our LMSM, and members of the Democratic party, everybody else is happy and celebrating.
Won’t be long before Zarq t-shirts will no doubt become a fashion statement in Hollywood.
This murderer who killed more civillians then any of the armed forces currently in Iraq is dead and may he rot in hell.

LakeRuins on June 9, 2006 at 10:00 AM

“The Daily Telegraph that it was not safe for western journalists to approach the funeral preparations.”

If not journalists, how about pooling our money and send Fred Phelps and his minion over their to protest the funeral?

Kokonut on June 9, 2006 at 10:08 AM

One of the guys on “Fox and Friends” said that “I am happy that the last thing Zaqawi saw was an American soldier. I am also very happy also. “Poetic justice”. Yesterday was a very bad day for the left, my heart bleeds for them.

birdman on June 9, 2006 at 10:12 AM

LakeRuins: Won’t be long before Zarq t-shirts will no doubt become a fashion statement in Hollywood.
——————————-

What we should expect from Hollywood, is NAMING A STREET AFTER ZARQAWI, in his honor!

And certainly a movie from the likes of Michael Moore, depicting Zarqawi as a national HERO, probably starring Sean Penn.

ForYourEdification on June 9, 2006 at 10:23 AM

I hope he lived long enough to hear the words “President Bush sends his regards.”

speed647 on June 9, 2006 at 10:26 AM

What will be the title of Michael Moore’s movie, based on the life of Biggie Z?

dallas94 on June 9, 2006 at 10:36 AM

Press asked many questions to try and make it look like he was planted at the bomb site. Then went on to ask if plastic surgery was done to his face…wackos. Although I’m sure we have multiple vans with that exact capability for when PFC’s need a tummy tuck or to remove a second chin by face lift….
I wanted to know if his pants were down to his knees? He was probably in the head, as all 5 other terror chambermates were in pieces.
Its still the religion of PIECE’s.
I will get much satisfaction that he did see our boys standing over him in his last moment on earth. That’s sooo much better than him just being gone.

Terrorists everywhere, this is your future if you keep it up, no virgins, just American or Iraqi Armed Forces.
WHAT A GREAT DAY.

shooter on June 9, 2006 at 10:38 AM

As I posted yesterday;

“…my guys in the 4th Infantry Division (2/35 Vietnam, Class of 67-68) learned a valuable lesson from us NJ Italian Types after they failed to blow the hell out of Say-damn when they had him in that hole; “When day’s dead, they don’t talk so much!”

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on June 9, 2006 at 10:45 AM

I am more upbeat than most people…In fact, I think AlQeada’s presence in Iraq will soon be history!

Do you know Al Zarqawi spent a long time to groom his network and he kept basically his trusted leutenants on his side all along? Do you think it would be easy for the remnants of the group to build another central command without the Iraqis government infiltrating them?

I therefore, predict a breakdown of the entire AlQeada operation in Iraq. There will be no more orchestrated large scale attack until they can form a new nuclear group and if they are lucky enough not to receive another laser guided bomb in due course.

We can still expect an IED here or there, but no more large scale attack.

easy87us on June 9, 2006 at 10:52 AM

Very good. Thanks for the update Allahpundit. Sorry I couldn’t remember the General’s name: thought it was Caldwell but wasn’t sure. I just remember taking it seriously because the General was reporting from Iraq and wasn’t retired.

Regardless, this is one of the greatest things I have heard since the onset of the war on terror. I was literally almost dancing in front of my TV yesterday morning. And yes, I have to admit some schadenfreude on my part… if I didn’t I would be a liar. I’m not sure that this guy wasn’t actually worse than Bin Laden (let the hate mail begin); I say that because of the “hands on” approach that this particular monster used in committing terror. He delighted in murder and torture; and he delighted in doing it personally. In my opinion, destiny was kind to this perversion of a human being.

Great reporting as always from Allahpundit and HotAir. Thanks guys.

Cary on June 9, 2006 at 10:56 AM

It has to be divine intervention that the only survivor of not one but TWO MK-82′s hitting the house was the Z-man. He lived just long enough to see American boots next to his head, turn and look up, following the legs up to the body and face of an American G.I. looking down at him with a big smile on his face. I hope that soldier said “Does it hurt when I step HERE?!”

Tony737 on June 9, 2006 at 11:05 AM

I don’t give a damn what the left or the media thinks, I’m glad this scum sucking pig is dead!
He killed & was responsible for the deaths of many people- why anyone would have a shred of sympathy or compassion for this sack of you know what is simply beyond my comprehension.

Abigail Adams on June 9, 2006 at 11:11 AM

CNN’s Barbara Starr, this morning, asked Gen. Caldwell if after finding him alive, he was provided medical attention.
Did we drop bombs on him to provide him medical attention afterwards?

She also questioned whether or not a bullet had been put in him to finish him off.

First of all, he amazingly survived two 500 lb bombs, which we dropped, in hopes of blowing his a$$ to the moon.
And CNN’s Barbara Starr is worried that someone finished him off with a measly bullet.

TRULY AMAZING!

CmmnSns on June 9, 2006 at 11:15 AM

I can almost read this headline from the MSM soon…

“Military Suspected Murdering Al Zarqawi!”

Tim Russert will be jumping mad trying to seek justice for his AlQeada hero!

easy87us on June 9, 2006 at 11:19 AM

I don’t know if it’s unChristian or not, but I just hope he felt some pain before he expired.

Sorry God.

Blaise on June 9, 2006 at 11:46 AM

Little snipit this morning when i got to work. One of my co-worker is married to an Iraqi, who is currently visiting his old home town (don’t ask long story), not sure exactly where, I will try and find out, anyway she said she spoke to him last night and him and all his friend were very happy and excited but were a little miffed that the US was taking credit for the capture/death of zman. Husband goes on to say Sadar and his men killed Zman and then the safe house was bombed and Iraqi and US forces moved in and took credit. I was like…Hmmmm? Look for this version from Sadar soon.

Brian on June 9, 2006 at 11:56 AM

Al-Zarqawi’s last words: “Goodbye brother, Al-Gorekawi. Allah snackbar.

MaiDee on June 9, 2006 at 12:04 PM

Excellent news, really; my only quibble about the air strike was that it seemed, given the way he murdered so many of his victims, Zarqawi got off too easy with an instantaneous death.

How gratifying to learn this morning that, albeit for too short a time, he suffered before he died. Evidence, though, that there is a God … and that He is not impartial in the affairs of men.

Spurius Ligustinus on June 9, 2006 at 12:12 PM

And by the way, that al-Reuters “reporter” in the news conference – the one who kept asking whether Zarqawi had been “shot” – made me glad that I’m just a combat arms type and not a press relations officer. I just wanted to slap that smug expression of his.

Spurius Ligustinus on June 9, 2006 at 12:16 PM

“I don’t know if it’s unChristian or not, but I just hope he felt some pain before he expired.

Sorry God.

Blaise on June 9, 2006 at 11:46 ”

The last face he saw was an American Soldier smiling at him.

Now you can imagine how painful that was to him.

No need to wish…man….I am sure he felt more pain in his last moment than he had ever felt in his entire life. He knew he was in the hands of the American. That was why he tried to escape…it was like a nightmare to him.

His final move was met with checkmate…..

easy87us on June 9, 2006 at 12:16 PM

I’d think this would have been a much more creative approach to the announcement.

Last night, coalition forces used two precision-guided implements to first open the doors of al-Zarqawi’s safe house, then follow up by stunning the occupants. The tools were effective. The first 500-pound key opened the doors and windows, plus most of the walls holding them. The second implement, a 500-pound stun grenade, effectively rendered the occupants immobile long enough for coalition forces to enter the house and provide transportation assistance. Regrettably, al-Zarqawi’s intestinal fortitude was lower than the carefully calibrated stun grenade was designed to overcome. As a result, he expired before we could properly welcome him to a free Iraq.

I guess the new White House press secretary didn’t get to chop on the initial press release. Certainly, Tony Snow would have found an even better way to phrase this!

on the Mark... on June 9, 2006 at 12:23 PM

In the words of the late, great Jackie “Moms” Mabley,

“Never say anything bad about the dead. He’s Dead. Good!!”

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on June 9, 2006 at 12:33 PM

WaPo’s Philip Kennicott is unhappy about the frame around dead (but not before he saw our troops’ faces – how just it is) Zarqawi.

If we would have been after parity we could have put his head in a fruitbox, for the press-conference, emulating his own tactics.

Entelechy on June 9, 2006 at 12:33 PM

Here is a piece from an Atlanta area tv station regarding the reaction of one of Zarqawi’s other victims, a man named Jack Hensley who was also beheaded. I don’t think they agree with the grieving father who the MSM continues to report on.
http://11alive.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=80747

LakeRuins on June 9, 2006 at 12:45 PM

“HIGHLY SATISFACTORY”

Indeed.

My smile for the day.

Professor Blather on June 9, 2006 at 1:09 PM

And my first big laugh of the day came from this:

“Allah snackbar.”

Now that’s funny.

Professor Blather on June 9, 2006 at 1:13 PM

I wonder if the press now realize that leaks of classified information can have deeadly consequences?

LakeRuins on June 9, 2006 at 1:34 PM

I hope he cried like a little baby when he saw our troops standing over his pathetic body. good riddance.

pullingmyhairout on June 9, 2006 at 2:14 PM

Blaise, the answer is probably yes.

And I agree with you! Just can’t help it.

ChelleFiche on June 9, 2006 at 3:04 PM

Yes, the death of Zarqawi is made a little sweeter knowing his last vision was the Stars and Stripes on a U.S. military uniform.

Also, listening to Michael Berg on the Medved show yesterday was amazing. Can’t for the life of me figure out how someone ends up with such a world view.

The scariest thing about Berg, though, is that he’s a high school teacher. But I’m sure he doesn’t try influencing his young students with his far left ideas…..

right as rain man on June 9, 2006 at 4:12 PM

Reported by Gen. Caldwell…..39 raids were conducted after Al Zarqawi was neutralized….to destroy his network!

Al forgot to purge the hard disk on his laptop!…LOL

easy87us on June 9, 2006 at 7:36 PM

Berg Sr. is a joke,a really sad and pathetic joke. His son was not. Laugh at the joke and mourn for the son. Remember that the last thing that the murdering son of a bitch Zarquawi ever saw on God’s green earth was the face and the uniform of a United States Marine standing right over his soon to be dead body! There is a God!!!!!!!!!!

NEMETI IN SYRACUSE on June 9, 2006 at 8:40 PM

He was ALIVE when we got there??
Then the cornhole lawyers in the Pentagon and State Dept. will soon swoop down and throw those who bombed/caught Zarquawi
in shackles and leg irons, like those Marines who are incarcerated BUT NOT YET CHARGED, who battled in Haditha.
It is some country that throws its warriors in prison, and treats them worse than the headcutters they were sent to fight.

lizzee on June 9, 2006 at 9:43 PM

“BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Abu Musab al-Zarqawi could barely speak, but he struggled and tried to get away from American soldiers as he lay dying on a stretcher in the ruins of his hideout.”

Is it just me? I detect extreme sorrow in the tone of the reporter. How are these reporters’ brains wired?

Entelechy on June 10, 2006 at 12:18 AM

The overpressure of the strike probably shredded his internal organs, even if he was in a somewhat protected place; not a pleasent way to die. And his last site on Earth being Iraqi Police AND U.S. troops is pure justice.

I’ll bet most of the intel is coming from USB drives. It’s a safer way to carry around your terrorist lists but- unfortunately for the scum of the Earth- they can be pretty durable.

I bet the manufacturer would love to get a plug out of this: ‘Store your data on the drive that even 1,000 pounds of America’s finest bombs couldn’t destroy!’

Mike O on June 10, 2006 at 1:09 AM

I heard the soldiers bent down with a Boom Box and played Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” next to his ear…. real loud…

UNCLE SAM PUT YOUR NAME AT THE TOP OF LIST
AND THE STATUE OF LIBERTY STARTED SHAKEN HER FIST
AT IT’LL FEEL LIKE THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD IS COMING DOWN ON YOUUUUUU
BROUGHT TO YOU COURTESY OF THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE

Richard Davis on June 10, 2006 at 5:15 PM