Wounded Z?


Rumors that al Qaeda in Iraq Commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been wounded in combat during the battles in Qaim have taken on a new life. Early last week an Iraqi officer reported Zarqawi was seriously wounded, if not dead already. The Times Online has details of the purported visit by Zarqawi to a hospital in Ramadi (note that Iraqi blogger Hammorabi reported on this hospital visit on Thursday):

According to the doctor, Zarqawi was escorted into Ramadi general hospital by smartly dressed men. "He was bleeding heavily and his escorts were well dressed with a look about them that was different from the casualties and family members we had been receiving from the al-Qaim offensive," he was quoted as saying.

"I treated his injury and asked that he remain in hospital for further observations and told him that we would have to register him and take down his name and details. But he became very nervous and agitated. He refused and told me he would not be staying.

"The three men with him asked me politely that he be allowed to leave hospital immediately and that I supply them with a prescription and a list of medication that he may need."

The doctor, who recognised Zarqawi from his photograph on television, followed them to their vehicle to try to convince them that the patient should remain in hospital. At that point, he said, he saw machineguns. They threatened to kill him if he told anyone what he had seen.

They then produced a wad of US dollars to secure his silence. The doctor said that he had refused to take the cash.

Hammorabi also noted that "a finger print for his DNA test has been requested from Jordan". My guess is US intelligence already has his (or his family member's) DNA on file for an immediate comparison. If the Iraqi doctor was smart enough, he will have saved the dressings of Zarqawi's wounds for comparison, and we will know for sure if he was wounded during Matador. To confirm his death, it is best to wait for the body for evidence.



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READER COMMENTS: "Wounded Z?"

Posted by Joel S. Gerhrke at May 15, 2005 7:35 AM ET:

So, let's get this straight. The doctor didn't take the money. Therefore he gave no solace to Zarqawi's and his guards' apprehension that he would keep silence after he saw the machine guns in their car. Nevertheless, they drove away peaceably. Then the doctor posted the details his encounter on the web under his own name.

Not credible.

JSG

Posted by Bill Roggio at May 15, 2005 8:30 AM ET:

Joel,

I am not saying this is legit or not. As you can see I am skeptical unless more definitive proof is offered. However there is a $25 million bounty on Zarqawi's head. If the doctor is correct, he may be in line for a serious payday if his information leads to Zarqawi. And I would guess he and his family are now under some form of protection if his claims are being taken seriously.

Posted by Justin Capone at May 15, 2005 5:00 PM ET:

Even if this is correct, there is nothing in it that says or even implies that Zarqawi is dying or life is in danger in any way from his wounds. The article seems to imply the opposite.

Posted by Kartik at May 15, 2005 5:26 PM ET:

He was 'bleeding heavily' and had to be taken to the hospital rather than going by himself.

If he is injured, he is in pain (which is good), and will be slowed down if he cannot run at full speed.

If we are lucky, he might even get infections, etc.

Posted by MyssiAnn at May 15, 2005 8:16 PM ET:

Kartik said: If we are lucky, he might even get infections, etc.
Myssi says: We don't have to be very lucky for a wound that warrants hospitalization to become infected. If he does such a wound and doesn't have a trained medical professional travelling with him, then chances are better than 90% that I'll get my wish that he die painfully and slowly of septicemia.
Consider this: Christopher Reeve died of septicemia in a clean, next best to an inpatient facility situation. On a personal level, I have a paraplegic patient whose father is a physician who has had septicemia twice in the last year. The best medicine money can buy can't always prevent it. And, certainly, running from the U.S. military, Zarqawi isn't in a situation to get the best medicine money can buy.

Posted by USMC_Vet at May 16, 2005 12:13 AM ET:

This doctor is either:

A.) Full of crap.
B.) Not very bright.
c.) Already more secure than Dick Cheney on September 12th.

Both A and B put an unabated bounty on his head from al Qaida, who carry out assassinations through the employment of area weapons (car bombs). They just need to get close. I just can't fathom anyone bringing that weight on their own head (and their family) just to let the world know that Zarqawi has been gravely wounded. I'm trying, but I just can't think of a motivation short of an un-full deck, love Z or hate Z.

That brings me to believe that C must be in order.

The man is a doctor, not a goat herder. He's not unintelligent.

Another remote possibility is that it is an American disinformation operation to sniff out some chatter, see who pops their head up for a few seconds.

Also, are there corroborating stories from other hospital staff? Then, even if they could, would they? They have families. Their families surely are not worth the inherant risk.

Who knows.

Posted by Justin B at May 16, 2005 1:50 AM ET:

Just a side note--who in the world would want to be a doctor in Ramadi? Treating victims of car bombings... no more appropriately trying to reassemble the pieces of victims from car bombings could not be much of a job.

Here is a guy that has watched constant death and carnage, who patches together pieces of victims as a JOB, who undoubtedly has already had friends and family killed, who knows he will become a target risking his life to tell this story. Think about that. Either he is lying, which is a possibility or he is telling the truth. I guess the third option is that he could be a figment of our or AZ's imagination and part of a disinformation campaign by either side, but leaving that option aside, let's evaluate what he has to gain and or lose by coming forward with this story.

He gets the wrath of AQ in Iraq and probably the murder of his family, his friends, his friend's families, his dog, his goat, his camel, the hairdresser down the street, and most of his hospital staff. If they have a Starbucks in Ramadi (and judging by how many of them there are everywhere lately, they might), they are gonna kill the barista that makes him his morning latte. If they don't have a Starbucks to get a latte, then his job as a doctor in Ramadi is even worse. If indeed this man is willing to sacrifice all this, what does he get in return? What can we offer him in return? $25M? He only gets that if AZ is apprehended. Asylum in the US? Does that protect his goat, family, etc.?

But try this on for size--if he is actually (and it may be tough to believe for some here that think of sacrifice of our troops as simply a number or a punch line or a way to demonstrate how Bush lied and kids died) AN IRAQI PATRIOT that understands the consequences of his actions and is willing to die if need be to assist in the capture of this man that may very well have killed his own family and those of scores of others, we might view this in our typical "glass is half full" kind of way as a good sign. We see people coming forward left and right to rat out AQ and try to get rid of the destroyers of peace. Who knows what to make of it, but if anyone would have a firsthand incentive to want this thing over, it is a doctor that treats the wounded and identifies the bodies in a hospital in Ramadi.

Then again, it is probably BS anyway. And now I want a latte.

Posted by zeppenwolf at May 16, 2005 10:40 PM ET:

Joel: The doctor didn't take the money. Therefore he gave no solace to Zarqawi's and his guards' apprehension that he would keep silence...


That part of it doesn't seem to me problematic. How's this:


Z: Comrade, you must be silent-- take this money.


Doc: Sir, that's not necessary-- I've taken the hippocratic oath.


Z: Wha..?


Doc: Like "Bones" in "Star Trek"-- I heal anyone who is hurt, no questions asked.


Z: Oh... DeForrest Kelley. Yeah, ok-- see ya.


Know what I mean? If we can believe Hollywood, doctors are constantly expected to heal & keep their mouths shut. Right? It's just part of the nobility of being a doctor.