Zarqawi Unmasked

Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi has appeared in a video released on the Internet giving the clearest look at the enigmatic terrorist leader yet. Why al-Zarqawi, who normally was masked, now appears comfortable speaking so openly is anyone’s guess. It could be that al-Zarqawi has fled Iraq and found a place where US forces are unlikely to find him, or that he’s decided that being more open will increase his cachet with other terrorist leaders. Or, he could be making a power play within al-Qaeda, trying to establish himself as the sheikh of the organization as bin Laden remains pinned in the remote Afghan/Pakistan frontier. There have been some persistent rumors that there’s been some friction between the al-Zawhiri/bin Laden leadership and al-Zarqawi’s wing of al-Qaeda.

In any event, al-Zarqawi is taking a considerable risk by appearing in this video (assuming that it is really him, which does seem likely). Based on the increasing backlash against al-Zarqawi’s violence against fellow Muslims in Iraq and Jordan, al-Zarqawi may be forced to make bolder moves to further the operations of his branch of al-Qaeda. The bolder the move, the more the risk, which may help the US, Iraqi, and coalition forces take down the terrorist once and for all.

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