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10 October 2004

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Blowing up Zarqawi
How the coalition transformed a failed fringe fanatic into The World’s Most Dangerous Terrorist.

by Brendan O'Neill

What a difference two years makes when it comes to being the 'most evil man in the world'.

Until January 2003 Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a bit of a mystery. He was said to be an Islamic fundamentalist from Jordan, a 'lone wolf' according to one CIA official, fixated on toppling the Jordanian monarchy. He moved to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviets in the late 1980s, was imprisoned in Jordan for seven years in the 1990s, was later injured in America's war in Afghanistan in 2002, and then fled to northern Iraq to seek shelter with the Islamic fundamentalist outfit Ansar al-Islam. He reportedly moved down to Iraq proper some time after the war, with an eye for stirring up trouble.

Today Washington has branded him 'the most wanted man in Iraq'. He is said to have links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Videos allegedly made by his group Tawhid and Jihad, showing American civilians being beheaded and other kidnap victims, notably British construction worker Ken Bigley, chained up, caged and distressed, have captured the world's attention. He stands accused of wanting to 'foment civil war in Iraq' (2). He even seems to have elbowed aside bin Laden to become, in the words of Newsweek, 'the world's most dangerous terrorist'. Many other governments are 'scared to death of him', too, says Newsweek (3). US officials have put a $25million bounty on his head, the same as that offered for info that leads to the capture of bin Laden.

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