Jordan Refuses Repatriation of Body
The US is sending a forensics team to do an autoposy of Abu Musaba al-Zarqawi. Al-Hayat reports that his family is demanding to know the results [Ar.] , after a local villager at Habhub near Baqubah told a story to a Western wire service and other Western news sources about Zarqawi’s death. He says that after the bombing, villagers rushed to the site, and found a survivor, putting him in their ambulance. US troops then arrived, said the villager, and pulled the man out of the ambulance and beat him to a pulp or in one version, strangled him with his headscarf. This story is implausible, but may gain purchase in the Arab world after the Haditha massacre and the news that Guantanamo prisoners were found hanged.
“Al-Qaeda” in Iraq is threatening major attacks in revenge for the killing of Zarqawi.
As elsewhere in the region, there were mixed feelings in Zarqa, Jordan, about Zarqawi’s death. The Jordanian government is taking full credit for its role in tracking him down, calling it “Operation Hotel Martyrs,” i.e. revenge for Zarqawi’s operation that killed dozens at 3 hotels in Amman last fall. The announcement comes as Jordan celebrates the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918, during which the Hashimite ancestors of the present king waged a successful guerrilla revolt against the Ottoman Empire to attain their independence. They had been unafraid to ally with the British in this endeavor. The celebrations in Jordan, held Saturday, are a kind of Army Day, in which there are parades and pride is expressed in the Jordanian military. This complex of celebrations underlines a secular or at least civil dimension to Jordanian nationalism. Some Islamists code the last Ottoman sultans as revered caliphs or Sunni popes, but the leaders of the Arab revolt declined to see them that way, just as tyrants. Some Islamists would decry the cooperation of Faisal and others with the British in attaining their independence, but the leaders of the Arab revolt were unapologetic about it. (Lawrence of Arabia incorrectly made himself the hero of the revolt, but the David Lean film is a good start in understanding all this). So the official ideology of Jordan is anti-Islamist and has a strong element of civil nationalism around the monarchy and Bedouin history, and is unafraid to be an ally of the West. In this light, it is easy to see why Jordanian authorities absolutely refuse to allow Zarqawi to be buried in Jordan.
As Reuters reported, the Iraq Civil War ground on Saturday:
In the ethnically mixed oil city of Kirkuk in the north, guerrillas shot dead 2 members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, including a security employe. Guerrillas also shot a civilian and injured another as they were driving in the city. Some 7 guerrillas had been arrested by a joint US and Iraqi (likely Kurdish) force on Wednesday. The reports, maddeningly enough, never say whether the guerrillas are Arab or Turkmen, or Peshmerga from other parties.
In Falluja, west of the capital, guerrillas killed a man and a woman in their car.
Just north of Baghdad in Tikrit, guerrillas killed two civilians in their car, and police found the beheaded body of a soldier that had been thrown in a river.
In north Baghdad, guerrillas used a roadside bomb to injure an important police officer, Major Gen. Ali Husain, and to kill his driver and wound one other person. In south Baghdad, guerrillas set off a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol, but only managed to wound 5 civilians.
In in the south, in Amara, British troops were taking indirect fire, and they moved into the city from their base outside. There appears to have been fighting, probably with the Mahdi Army militia or Marsh Arab tribesmen, and a “multinational force soldier” was wounded.
Pakistan launched a major raid against al-Qaeda fighters being trained in Waziristan, in which some 30 are said dead.