Killing Zarqawi

By Richard Sale

Perhaps the most important element of the tracking down and killing of terrorist mastermind Abu Musah al-Zarqawi rests on the fact that the key intelligence came from an Iraqi source, according to serving U.S. intelligence officials.

The informant Ziyad Halaf al-Karbouli, also known as Abu Hufeiza, was captured last month by a Jordanian unit called the “Riders of Justice,” part of Jordan’s 71st Commando Brigade, in a operation personally overseen by King Abdullah, according to U.S. intelligence sources.

Karbouli was responsible for the abduction and murder last September of Khaled Da Siko, a Palestinian, who was an important Jordanian undercover agent tasked with penetrating Zarqawi’s group. Da Siko was killed by Karbouli on the orders of Zarqawi after being kidnapped last September from Ruthba in western Iraq, U.S. officials said.

The Jordanian ploy to snare Zarqawi involved offering Zarqawi a base in Jordan for his operations that included millions of dollars in financial support, U.S. officials said.

Karbouli fell for the bait, but only after Jordanian intelligence made use of growing disillusionment on the part of two of Zarqawi’s own tribesmen, who met in December with Jordanian intelligence officials. The tribesman, from the Bani Hassan tribe, were disgusted by Zarqawi’s vicious attacks on hotels in Jordan, according to Middle East analyst Adel Darwish, (a friend of mine) and confirmed by U.S. intelligence officials.

The tribal members were told that the old tribal code of honor that forbids informing on another member was no longer valid after Zarqawi’s heartless actions. Jordanian intelligence then discovered that other tribal leaders were tired of Zarqawi’s bloodthirstiness and weary of being pressured for information by Jordanian spooks.

In the meantime, Jordanian intelligence, which has U.S. military advisors, had cast a very wide net, working through what former East German Stasi chief Marcus Wolfe called “chains of contacts.”

A former U.S. operative said that Jordanian intelligence began extensive police work in an attempt to identify, entrap, compromise and persuade people who knew Zarqawi or friends of his to cooperate in tracking the master. A number of people were contacted and taken to the Ministry of Interior’s special prison building in downtown Amman which the locals call “Government Free Hotel” or “The Fingernail Factory” for what were termed “earnest, comprehensive discussions of common interest,” in the words of a former U.S. official.

Lt. Gen. Tahsin Sherdom, until recently Jordan’s Director of Public Safety and part of the “Circassian Mafia” which prevails in the Jordanian military and security services, had a direct interest in these interrogations, former U.S. officials said.

The Iraqi collaborators were encouraged by Amman to reach out to likeminded companions, and one of these fingered al-Karbouli, who was then captured and questioned. It was then that Karbouli fingered Sheikh Abd al-Rahman, the spiritual advisor of Zarqawi, and U.S. Special Forces, who had been working with the Jordanians, began their surveillance, which included the assignment of two Predators drones plus intercepts of al-Rahman’s satellite phone.

It was by means of informants and technical surveillance that the United States trailed al-Rahman to his meeting with Zarqawi. The air strike on the safe house was targeted by laser beams directed on the site by U.S. Special Forces.

The big question now for U.S. and Jordanian intelligence operatives is whether the tribesmen and Karbouli will be followed by other Sunni and Iraqi defectors from the insurgency. If that happens, Zarqawi’s death could actually prove to be a key turning point, as so many, for the wrong reasons, have said that it is.

Richard Sale

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7 Responses to Killing Zarqawi

  1. taters says:


  2. The Agonist says:

    Items Of Interest

    This morning I read this very intersting narrative on the hunt for Zarqawi. It’s simply an interesting tale worth reading.
    I also read how Russia has further restricted foreign oil companies from owning more than a 40% stake in big Russian oil fields, th

  3. zanzibar says:

    Very interesting! Goes to show that the way to defeat the Jihadists is through good human intelligence and infiltrating their organizations. And draining the swamps of support in the Islamic communities through more enlightened policies rather than the current approach of riling them up.
    It seems that we prefer to throw out common sense and go for the buzz words laden technology stuff that makes the defense contractors and the politicians a ton of money and forget about the objectives. Of course, unless the object is to transfer taxpayer funds to a few.
    If we continue to fight the “War on Terror” like we fought the “War on Poverty” and the “War on Drugs”, we’ll end up with the same results.

  4. Hannah K. O'Luthon says:

    Interesting indeed, but hardly reassuring. It is nice to see
    that one of the “intelligence sources” is a friend of Sale, so
    that the otherwise unsourced reports have a greater credibility, but of course one never knows for sure who is a reliable source, and even reliable and authentically friendly sources can be fed disinformation in the wilderness of mirrors that is counterintelligence. Moreover, the scarcely veiled endorsement for torture (at the Fingernail Factory) is hardly in keeping
    with Col. Lang’s unequivocal rejection of that abomination.
    All in all, I read this as one more part of the U.S. disinformation campaign regarding the Zarqawi operation,
    with the added objective of justifying “extraordinary renditions”.
    I may, of course, be completely wrong in this judgment.

  5. Norbert Schulz says:

    The war-on-terror, as conceived by the Bushies, is the equivalent of cops beating up the usual suspects to coerce confessions.
    Policework and fighting terrorists or guerrillas, requires much more, starting with patience and regional expertise.

  6. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I reiterate my rejection of that abomination. pl

  7. bill says:

    An interesting point that seems to have been missed, is the fact that Zarqawi could have survived 2 500 pound bombs. I’ve only seen one reporter in the mainstream asking the right questions…

    The facts released surrounding Zarqawi’s death should raise red flags. The media have consistently reported that Zarqawi was killed by two direct hits from 500-pound aerial bombs while he occupied a single, rural dwelling. While the amount and type of explosives used in different aerial munitions varies substantially, an approximate kill radius for such a large high-order detonation — that is, the radius in which a person would have virtually no chance of surviving — is well over 50 meters.
    The temperature of an aerial munition blast can reach as high as a few thousand degrees. Zarqawi apparently defied physics and logic. A government-released photo showed Zarqawi’s face to be completely intact. U.S. Gen. William Caldwell denied that the photographs had been altered in any way. According to autopsy results released by the U.S. military, Zarqawi was allegedly conscious for nearly an hour after the monstrous blasts. In one last dramatic act of defiance, he turned his head away when an American soldier reached toward him as he lay on a stretcher.
    Do the questionable facts surrounding Zarqawi’s death point to a conspiracy? At the very least, it is worth entertaining reasonable alternative hypothetical situations . . .

    Two 500 pound bombs were dropped on the house where Zarqawi was staying. Apparently there was not much left but Zarqawi was somehow not blown to pieces or incinerated and reportedly survived, and by one eyewitness account, he survived and was beaten. I just want to know how he survived the “depleted” uranium cooking to show such a pretty trophy shot for the Pentagon press conference.

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