Juan Cole writes today: “Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (actually Ahmad al-Khalayleh of Zarqa) has been elevated by the Bush administration to an almost mythic position as the fomenter of much of the violence in Iraq. It isn’t true.” (Which we know here.) More quotable Cole below:
Juan Cole continues:
I haven’t commented much about the alleged activities of Zarqawi, mostly reported from anonymous and easily manipulated web sites. He was said to have had a meeting with lieutenants, maybe in Syria, maybe in Anbar. He was said to be at Ramadi. Ramadi was apparently locked down by the US military as a result. He was said to be wounded at Ramadi. Now some sites are saying he is dead. Those that maintain that he is still alive argue over he should “step down” in favor someone else to head up “Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia.”
It turns out that the “meeting in Damascus” scenario is probably just propaganda. The Baath Party in Syria has a deep fear of Sunni fundamentalists. He is an unlikely ally for them.
I don’t trust those jihadi web sites. I think someone is jerking the US press around, and it could be anybody, including USG.
It doesn’t matter, anyway. We historians don’t believe in the great man theory, unlike the Bush administration. Zarqawi leads a social movement of several hundred persons, if he exists at all. If he is killed, the social movement will just go on.