Zarqawi, In Living Color
Jihadist discussion boards have gone wild with exhilaration as Jordanian terrorist Ahmad Al-Khalayleh, 39, otherwise known as Abu Musa’ab Al-Zarqawi, appeared in person for the first time in a 34 minute video that was posted on various jihadist websites today. Some are elated because it seems to address a key concern that was bandied about for a while: "is Zarqawi for real?"
Well, apparently he is. Zarqawi had made numerous voice recordings over the past three years, but this is the first time anyone gets to see him in recent footage from Iraq.
The video starts by previewing the upcoming sequences, which include Zarqawi firing a heavy machine gun—Rambo style—into the horizon. Then Osama Bin Laden’s most recent audio recording is heard as he beseeches the youths of Islam to support “your brothers in the land of the two rivers” as Iraq was historically known.
Zarqawi then appears, seated against a white wall, and with a paratrooper Kalashnikov on his right in a manner very similar to Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s latest video, although the latter’s AK-47 comes equipped with a grenade launcher.
Zarqawi suffers from “helicopter-eyes” as he speaks since he does not look into the camera, and it is unclear whether he is reading from a prompter. The Arabic wording is ornate and powerful.
This is an attempt to paraphrase what Zarqawi says [This is NOT a word-for-word translation and some parts have been excised for brevity]:
The Crusader enemy is trying to control the lands of Islam to aid the Zionists in setting up their state from the Nile to the Euphrates. The jihadists have stood in the face of this fierce attack for over three years, and have sacrificed much. The Sunnis of Iraq are wedged between the treacherous Shias and the hateful Crusaders. We are a stone’s throw from where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven; we fight in Iraq while our eyes look towards Jerusalem.Zarqawi then gives his name as “Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi” and gives the date in the Islamic calendar as well as saying that it corresponds to “April 21, 2006”.
We say to Bush, the bearer of the Crusader banner, that you will never enjoy your stay in the lands of Islam. Sheikh Osama bin Laden had extended an offer of a long-term truce, but in your arrogance and deceit you turned it down. You have been exposed as a liar in telling your people that the situation is under control. You have become like an alcoholic who tries to heal himself by drinking more alcohol. The fighting spirit of your soldiers is collapsing. Why don’t you tell your people about the suicide rate among your soldiers in Iraq, who have to take sleeping pills and hallucinogens to be led like sheep by your generals [Zarqawi calls them the “Zionist evangelicals.”]
Again addressing Bush: you are a liar, you brought forth the charade of democracy to Iraq, promising the people freedom, happiness and material security, but all that has gone to the winds. Now you are trying to bring together the various factions of your agents in order to form a government, to save yourself from the quagmire. This government of hateful Shias, secular Kurdish Zionists, and those who falsely represent the Sunnis is like a poisoned dagger in the side of Iraq.
America has concluded that it cannot win this battle with its tanks and planes, so they are employing a devious plan to use its agents among the Sunnis to choke the jihadists. We warn all those who want to build-up the army and the police that we will bring down God’s judgment on you with the sword.
There are two kinds of people that are being led astray to the parliamentary farce, and who are trying to reap the fruits of the jihad. The first being those who try to ingratiate themselves with the jihadists but have not suffered or sacrificed for jihad. The second group was involved in the fighting during the very beginning but now think that they can implement the Shariah through political means. The parliament is controlled by the Shias and the Kurds who will never allow them to do that.
To all the jihadists, continue your attacks because we are witnessing the last moments before the Crusaders declare their defeat. Their morale is crashing, so increase your efforts and don’t give them a breather. Do not lay down your arms or you will face eternal shame.
I bring you the tidings of the formation of the Shura Council of the Mujaheddin, which shall be the nucleus of an Islamic state where God’s word will govern all. I am one of its members, even though I am still the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers.
Then we see him walking around a hilly desert landscape with dozens of armed men in black masks briskly strolling alongside him. They are brandishing their weapons and we even see a truck with a mounted machine gun on it. Zarqawi shakes hands, and it looks at if he is inspecting the troops.
The next scene is of him getting a briefing. He is welcomed by a man in a black mask “to the land of Anbar” who proceeds to describe a recent operation where the jihadists managed to take over the major city of Ramadi for a few hours. “The Americans did not dare to show up for four days,” the masked man adds, claiming that it was done in retaliation to the recent visit by Condi Rice and Jack Straw to Baghdad. He then shows Zarqawi two projectiles that were “developed in Anbar”, one of which is called “Al-Qaeda-1” with a range of 40 Km and can carry 50 Kg of explosives. A video of the launch is shown on a laptop. The other missile is then shown to be a shoulder-borne rocket with a range of 1 Km that can allegedly penetrate tank armor.
The following scene shows Zarqawi discussing a map with his lieutenants, all in black masks, shirts and pants. Chanting is heard, then a smattering of Koranic recitation, followed by Zawahiri’s voice imploring the Muslims to support the jihadists in Iraq and then some more chanting.
Then we see Zarqawi walking alone, and he is handed a heavy machine gun. He empties two magazines in two different positions, then he turns to the camera and says, “By God, America will be defeated in Iraq, and God willing it shall leave the land of the two rivers defeated and belittled, with God’s aid.”
Initial Analysis: Yikes! The video is powerful, and jihadist-sympathizers will be buoyed by it. Clearly, Zarqawi is basically telling everyone that he is still around, and prospering. The one scene where he confidently walks around escorted by his fighters is very reminiscent of the famous one of Bin Laden doing the same in Afghanistan, and the positioning of the paratrooper Kalashnikov looks a lot like Zawahiri’s videos as discussed earlier. It is as if Zarqawi is visually comparing himself to Bin Laden and Zawahiri, both hiding somewhere in the Hindu Kush, while he is fighting America on the plains of Iraq. In such a comparison, Zarqawi comes out ahead.
This is a major breakthrough for Zarqawi’s ever-expanding stature, and in it he answers speculations that he had been demoted by making clear that although he is merely a member of the Shura Council of the Mujaheddin, he is still the head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.