U.S. and Iraqi officials announced early Thursday that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, has been killed along with seven aides in an air strike. The attack occurred 30 miles northeast of Baghdad just east of the provincial capital of Baqouba. Al-Zarqawi, whose identity was confirmed through fingerprints, was the mastermind behind some of the most violent, brutal acts of terrorism. He himself is believed to have personally beheaded Americans Nicholas Berg and Eugene Armstrong, earning him the nickname "the slaughtering sheik."
But now he may be saddled in death with the nickname, "the idiot sheik," as his appearance in a recent videotaped message helped Jordanian officials recognize the mountainous region of Baqouba in the background, enabling them, the U.S. and Iraqis to pinpoint his location, according to a news report Wednesday on the Don Imus radio program.
Questions which now remain: what effect will al-Zarqawi's death have on the intensity of the insurgency; the progress of the new Iraqi government; Bush's poll numbers; and the pro-war politicians who seek re-election in November? Stay tuned.