The Blog

A Shattering of Memes

The career of Zarqawi's likely successor highlights Iraqi ties to al Qaeda.

1:30 PM, Jun 11, 2006 • By DAN DARLING
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TWO FURTHER ASPECTS of al-Masri's career cut deeply into critics' understanding of Zarqawi and his organization. While some have alleged that bin Laden and Zarqawi existed as rivals prior to the invasion of Iraq, this interpretation is belied by General Caldwell's statement that Zarqawi first met al-Masri at al-Farouk, an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, and has had a "very close relationship" with him since arriving in Iraq.

The acknowledgement by Caldwell that al-Masri was in contact with al-Zawahiri likewise belies critics' charges that no real connection exists between al Qaeda in Iraq and its parent organization headed up by Osama bin Laden. See the calls among Zarqawi's online followers for bin Laden to appoint a new emir of al Qaeda in Iraq so that their jihad can continue. Clearly, whatever the differences between Zarqawi and bin Laden, they were more than willing to cooperate when it came to killing Americans.

The potential rise of Abu Ayyub al-Masri in al Qaeda in Iraq provides a welcome opportunity for the administration to both clarify misperceptions concerning the nature and identity of our enemies and rebut critics who falsely accuse the administration of having brought terrorism to Iraq. Whether or not the administration chooses to seize this opportunity will be another matter altogether.

Dan Darling is a counterterrorism consultant.