Zarqawi Was Here

Biara_from_above

Michael Totten continues his blog tour of Kurdish Iraq, visiting the town, Baria (above), that Zarqawi had made his home base before the invasion. One of the least remarked on moments in the pre-war was when the U.S. had a clear chance to kill Zarqawi and destroy his operation and the president punted. A military strike would have complicated pre-war diplomacy (or so I was told after the fact by a 'senior government official'). So one U.S. president was handed bin Laden on a plate and turned it down. And his successor was offered a clear shot at Zarqawi and he walked away. Just saying. Zarqawi was an Islamist monster, of course. Money quote:

"'Did you live here when the village was occupied by Zarqawi?'

'I did,' he said. 'Life wasn't good. We had no freedom. TV was banned. Women couldn't walk outside without an abaya. There was violence. Anyone not affiliated with them was treated badly. During prayer time everyone was required to go to the mosque. If we didn’t go we were insulted and fined 50 dollars.'"

Zarqawi turned the local mosque into his headquarters, trashing it, and trying to install plumbing for a restroom. Michael asks a Kurd at the mosque a difficult question:

"I braced myself. 'How do you feel about the U.S. bombing this mosque?” I said.

'I don’t know,' he said, as if he had never even pondered the question. 'It's okay, I suppose. I am grateful. If they had not done it this place would still be a toilet.'"

There's blasphemy and then there's Zarqawi.

(Photo: Michael Totten.)