AC: More on Zarqawi's death
ANDERSON COOPER: More perspective now from two people with years of experience on the ground: in Brisbane, Australia, Michael Ware of "TIME" magazine, and, in London, CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. Good to see both of you. Michael, how much of a blow is Zarqawi's death to the movement, to the insurgency and the terrorist movement in Iraq?
MICHAEL WARE, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": Well, Anderson, this is certainly going to force an evolution, both within his al-Qaeda organization and within the broader insurgency itself. The test is going to be whether the generation of al-Qaeda fighters that he brought to Iraq and that he found among the Iraqis will continue on the path that he set. It's going to be very key to see whether the long-term pressure to put an Iraqi face on al-Qaeda bears fruit. That could see some changes. Also, within the broader insurgency, I would expect that the Baathists will be the first to maximize this opportunity and try and reassert their authority within the insurgency. They have been struggling with him from the beginning. And I think it's friction like that, that he caused, that's led to his betrayal. But to gauge the future, watch the suicide bombings. Other groups do them, but Zarqawi's al-Qaeda really drove them. Let's see whether they maintain their frequency, but more particularly, let's see what they start targeting from here on in. That will be telling -- Anderson.
COOPER: Christiane, U.S. officials have said that tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders within Zarqawi's own network helped in the operation. If that is, in fact, true, how significant would it be?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, very significant, because the aim of any counterinsurgency fight is to get to the people around them, to deny the insurgents their core support: the environment around them, the people around them, the civilian population around them. So, that would be significant. And, as Michael says, watch the suicide bombings. Look, you just mentioned that 1,400 Iraqis were killed in Baghdad alone last month. Now, the Baghdad morgue says that is double the number that was killed in Baghdad a year ago, in May a year ago. So, the killing has been getting so much worse. But not just is it a fight against the insurgency, to try to whittle away at that, but it's also an attempt by the new Iraqi government, which has now named its new key security ministers, to actually try to convince people to vest in the political process, that their contract should be with politics and the government, and not individual militias or violence. And, as you know, the security services there are infiltrated by militias. And militias are essentially the people who are providing the security to the Shiites, who fear the Sunni insurgents, but also are conducting a lot of revenge attacks, death squads, kidnapping squads, and all those kinds of things that are going on. So, it's a really complicated scene of violence there.
COOPER: Yes. And, Michael, I mean, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi made it a mission to target Shias within Iraq, fellow Muslims who he considered, frankly, infidels, because they weren't part of the Sunni branch and his particular sect of the Sunni branch. Does that aspect of the insurgency continue? I mean, do the bombings of Shia mosques continue?
WARE: Well, this will be one of the great insights. I suspect that the sectarian strife will continue. I don't think there's much doubt about that. I mean, Zarqawi was pivotal in inciting that and inflaming it. He kept pushing it and pushing it. But I suspect it's now found its own momentum. I mean, there's so much politics hiding behind the sectarian strife now, as the Sunni and Shia vie for power, politically and on the streets, and within the security forces. But what we will see now is whether the targeting of mosques, of innocent Shias praying within these mosques, are targeted themselves. This is something that's caused great unrest and debate within al-Qaeda's own organization in Iraq, within the broader insurgency and within al-Qaeda globally. I mean, this is one of the lightning rods that Zarqawi created. So, this will be telling.
COOPER: Michael, we will have more from you and from Christiane in a moment. Stick around. U.S. military leaders and analysts are already weighing in on who may replace Zarqawi as the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Here’s the Raw Data: the top pick from Pentagon officials is an Egyptian-born man named Abu al-Masri, who is to believed to be an expert at building roadside bombs, the number-one killer of U.S. forces in Iraq, the IEDs, of course.
Some people are talking about another guy, Sheik Abdul al-Rahman, the spiritual adviser who was thought to be killed in today's bombing. But a letter was signed on an al Qaeda Web site with his name, condemning the attack. So, is he alive? We don't know at this point. That -- for some, at least -- cast doubt on his actual death.
ANDERSON COOPER: Our special edition of 360, Taking Out a Terrorist, The Death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi continues. The U.S. military and the White House celebrating tonight certainly the most-wanted man in Iraq taken out by a pair of 500-pound bombs after months of zeroing in on his whereabouts, weeks of intense tracking we are told. For some more perspective we turn now to Michael Ware, "Time Magazine's" Baghdad bureau chief, and the newest member of the CNN family. We're please that Michael has joined us as a correspondent. And standing by -- he is standing by in Brisbane, Australia. And in Zurich, Switzerland we're joined by CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, who knew more about the insurgency than just about anyone. Michael, what does it tell us -- I mean, if it's true that insiders gave up Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to U.S. forces, what does that tell us about what is going on inside this insurgency? Why would insurgents give up one of their own?
MICHAEL WARE: Well, Anderson, this has been going on for quite some time. Certainly at least since the middle of 2004 during the insurgents, you know, relative glory days of holding Fallujah, it's been a very uncomfortable fit for many within the insurgency to have Zarqawi in such a leading role and carrying out such vicious attacks. There's been a lot of debate about the worth of his methods. There's also power plays that need to be considered. I mean this is, to some degree we've seen turf wars. So the fact that there's friction is absolutely nothing new and it's the very thing that U.S. military intelligence has been seeking to capitalize on from the beginning. There's also been a lot of pressure from al-Qaeda head office, for want of a better term, in Waziristan, to see a more Iraqi face. There's been pressure from the ground for a more Iraqi face and Iraqi style. We saw in January that Zarqawi reinvented -- publicly. at least -- the jihad in Iraq by creating this relatively fake construct, being the Mujahadeen Shura Council, an umbrella group of which his organization was said to be one. So the fact that the betrayal has come from within almost had to happen as a matter of calculation one day sooner or later.
COOPER: Peter Bergen, in a new article in the "Atlantic Online" I was just reading about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, someone was quoted as saying that he was a symbol of the insurgency but he was really never its leader. That only about 10 percent -- he might have had the most brutal attacks but only about 10 percent of insurgent attacks were really directly related to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. So how significant really is his death?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, the 10 percent were actually the most important attacks because they were the kind of the major suicide operations that got the United Nations to withdraw, that sparked the incipient civil war, that got every international aid organization pretty much to pull out. So, even though there was a limited number of attacks and the foreign fighters only account for, say, 1500 to 2000 at any given moment in Iraq and there's a much larger Iraqi insurgency, it's the foreign fighters that have been doing the suicide operations. Only 10 percent of the suicide operations are Iraqi. And those operations have had a disproportionate affect on in terms of what's actually happening strategically in Iraq.
COOPER: Michael Ware, we're told a number of other people were taken out as well at the same time, there were also about more than a dozen raids around Baghdad in relation to this. They said they got a treasure trove of information. Is there someone else waiting in the wings to take over al-Qaeda in Iraq for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?
WARE: Well, there's a number of candidates, both foreign and Iraqi. So this is going to be the real litmus test for the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization. The real question is will it be an Iraqi? I mean there's been so much pressure for that to happen. And that could have immediate consequence on the use of al-Qaeda tactics and their targeting methods. It will also impact on the degree of coordination between al-Qaeda and the homegrown Iraqi groups. It's much simpler for Iraqis to be dealing with other Iraqis. Perhaps even former military comrades. So there is a number of people. And don't forget, al-Qaeda has shown an extraordinary ability to replenish and regenerate each time it's been disrupted. It has to be said this will be a significant disruption. Let's see how they come back.
COOPER: Peter Bergen, the relationship between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Osama Bin Laden is just a fascinating one. I mean there are a lot of reports that said these two guys actually hated each other and yet they both sort of needed each other, Bin Laden gave Zarqawi legitimacy, gave him the al-Qaeda connection. And Zarqawi gave Osama Bin Laden a sense of relevancy.
BERGEN: Yeah, I mean they probably met around 1999 when Zarqawi went to Afghanistan. He set up a training camp, hundreds of miles from al-Qaeda's base in Kandahar in Harat, in Western Afghanistan. And he really set up a group that was opposed to the Jordanian government. He didn't have any truck with anti-American attacks at that time. As the war against the Taliban unfolded he fled to Iran, he moved into Iraq, he began trying to attack American targets. But then it took him at least two years to finally formally pledge allegiance to Bin Laden, rename his group al-Qaeda in Iraq which he did in 2004. And then of course since then they have a back and forth about al-Qaeda leadership not wanting a Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq that would spread regionally. Bin Laden's never criticized the Shia, he's never criticized the Iranian government --
COOPER: Bin Laden's mother is Shia, isn't Bin Laden's mother Shia?
BERGEN: She's believed to be an Alawite from Syria, which I think is one of the sects in Shia. So, it's just something that the al-Qaeda leadership did not want. They also didn't want all of these beheadings of civilians. Zarqawi did seem to stop that. But Bin Laden, privately, at the moment, I'm sure he's publicly going to say that Zarqawi's death is a wonderful martyrdom, but privately he may be hoping that somebody, whoever takes al-Qaeda in Iraq over is a little more -- follows the central direction from the al-Qaeda leadership in Waziristan.
COOPER: Michael, in this article in the "Atlantic Monthly", Mary Ann Weaver talks to a lot of people who are suggesting that the U.S. made Abu Musab al-Zarqawi into a bigger player than he really was, for a variety of reasons, political and strategic. Do you think that's true?
WARE: Well, there certainly has been that put about for a couple of years now. And whilst there may have been political or military propaganda advantage into putting a face on the bogeyman facing the Americans in Iraq, I don't think it can be disputed that, despite the relatively small size of his forces and the relatively small number of attacks of the 5-600 odd a month that take place in Iraq, Zarqawi's influence went far beyond the proportions of his organization. He was able to take the public momentum of the insurgency and within the jihad community globally, he was able to seize the stage. He drew attention to himself and made a superstar of himself.
COOPER: And the superstar is dead. Michael Ware, Peter Bergen, thanks for your perspectives. If Zarqawi was the prince of al-Qaeda in Iraq or the superstar as Michael Ware says, well then, this man is probably the king. Osama Bin Laden's still free, of course, still taunting the world. An update on the search for him, that is next. And later why some fear Zarqawi's death may lead to an even bigger army of suicide bombers and terrorists. That and more when this special edition of 360 continues.