The Wrath of Zarqawi, The Ruin of Zarqawi

al Qaeda’s recent attack in Amman, Jordan has sparked a curious response from the Arab Street

The Wrath

During the first phase of Operation Steel Curtain in Husaybah, al Qaeda’s commander in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi threatened to “make the earth shake” unless Coalition forces halted combat operations at the strategic border crossing. True to form, Zarqawi’s suicide bombers struck in Amman, Jordan, targeting three hotels – the Grand Hyatt, the Radisson SAS and the Days Inn. The toll now stands at 56 killed and 97 wounded.

al Qaeda in Iraq has also struck in Baghdad and Tikrit, killing 37 Iraqi and wounding over 40. The attack in Baghdad was right near the Sheraton and Palestine hotels, where the media resides and the site of a recent car bombing. This is a classic al Qaeda media event.

Zarqawi has claimed credit for the Amman bombings, but even without this claim, the attacks bear the hallmarks of an al Qaeda strike: the target selection and locations, multiple suicide strikes, the timing of the attacks, the media impact. The reasons given for the Amman bombings are standard al Qaeda fare: essentially hatred for the entire civilized world.

These hotels were chosen because they became the favourite place for American and Israeli intelligence and other western European governments to carry out their invisible attacks which they call the war on terror… Egyptian, Palestinian Authority, Saudi and Jordanian spies also operated there to plot against the mujahideen (holy warriors) in Palestine and Iraq… The hotels are also a safe haven for the infidel Iraqi government to live and hold meetings after our fire has burned their Green Zone [in Baghdad]…

Zarqawi’s forces are taking a terrible beating at the border, and their need to remain relevant in the region drives these attacks. Make no mistake, Zarqawi is striking from a position of weakness, not strength.

The Ruin

The attacks in Amman have only served to inflame the Arab Street – against Zarqawi. The Associated Press reports “hundreds of angry Jordanians rallied outside one of the hotels, shouting, “Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!'” Bashir Nafeh, the chief of Palestinian intelligence services was killed in the Amman attacks. The bride and groom were injured, the groom details the loss to his family; “I lost my father and my father-in-law and I saw many others dead. This is a horrible crime.”

Athena of Terrorism Unveiled lived in Jordan for many months, and has a unique perspective on the attacks. In her comprehensive look at the attacks, she points out that the hotels are often hosting weddings and other family events. She also rounds up the reaction of various Jordanian bloggers. A compilation:

How do we stop this madness? Is it ever going to stop? I am so sick and tired of all of this violence. I have said it before and I will say it again: Violence does not create peace and those who commit such violent acts will never win and never achieve what they plan to achieve… May you rot in hell over and over again along with Zarqawi, Bin Laden, Bin **** and all those that support you. Nothing in the world can justify this. Those that try to justify this can rot in hell as well!… we need to combat this cancer they call terrorism, and extend our help to those who combat it… Those egregious acts are affront to humanity and they can never be justified under any circumstances… I really don’t understand, such sick minds waste their time planning such a destructive act, waste so much money just to destroy, and waste their powers in knocking down communities they live within! They waste their lives brainwashing generations, and the brainwashed explode themselves with pride and satisfaction!… Terrorism is so ugly, especially when it rears its head to look you straight in the eye.

And my personal favorite:

People kept cheering for al Qaeda until it came and took away your own sons and daughters.

The Arab Street sure is angry… just not at the usual suspects.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.


  • Papa Ray says:

    Yea, maybe. They need to do another poll and find out if the majority still agree that terrorism is a good thing. It might be less than the 60 something percent that said it was ok when polled earlier this year in Jordan.
    But Jordon is still neck deep in several terrorist groups, their training centers, and other activities still go on. Israel is still despised and hated in Jordan and its descruction wished for.
    But, if the murder bombers continue to kill Jordan’s citizens maybe, just maybe…
    Papa Ray
    West Texas

  • Athena says:

    Thanks for posting, Bill.
    Papa Ray, where are these training centers in Jordan? There are no credible reports of these. Actually, I’ve read no reports whatsoever. I offer that the government would absolutely not allow these for a myriad of reasons, mainly because it would threaten the stability of King Abdullah.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Bin Laden and Zawahri have a long term strategy that conflicts with what Zarqawi is doing now. There strategy has been to attack the west and slowly build up a folk hero image in the muslim world and over the course of a few decades after they have enough followers that they would go on the offensive in the Arab world to build their Empire.
    At the same time Zarqawi has his own strategy that if sucessful reaps far greater benifits in the short run, however if unsucessful ends up blowing everything Bin Laden has worked for.
    Zarqawi goal is to destabilize Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan so that in the chaos he can mobilize, network, and take over. He is trying to destabilize Iraq clearly by trying to spark a civil war, he is trying to destabilize Jordan by attacking the economy of Jordan. Hell, last year he tried to wipe out much of the capital of Jordan in a cloud of poision gas. I suspect one of the goals of this attack was also to try to scare foreigners from coming to Jordan which is a huge source of Jordan’s economy and could cause big economic problems and instibility if people stop coming.
    He is playing a high stakes game that could turn the muslim world forever against al-Qaeda, but if sucessful it could give al-Qaeda a base at the heart of the Middle East to launch attacks everywhere and destabilize other governments. If the US stands firm in Iraq for the next year or two and if we can keep Zarqawi from destabilizing any of the countries around Iraq then the Arab world itself will fight and destory al-Qaeda over the next decade.

  • Jim says:

    How ironic that the terrorists should target a wedding party. How often have we seen terrorist gatherings attacked by American forces refered to as wedding parties?

  • CaveatImperium says:

    Interesting how on Al Jazeera’s website there’s barely a hint of the bombing, let alone mention of the protests against Zarqawi.

  • Chicago Station says:

    Very interesting developments in Ramadi:
    “Kamil Ahmed, a 40-year-old [Ramadi] resident with long-standing ties to local insurgent groups, said the break started in the summer, when Al Qaeda in Iraq started killing police who showed up for work, breaking an insurgent agreement to let the officers do their jobs. The split intensified when the group assassinated several sheikhs for criticizing its actions. Insurgent groups also went against Al Qaeda in Iraq and urged citizens to vote in the constitutional referendum in October and in the upcoming December national elections. Ahmed said the final straw was about money. He said businesses and even some government offices around Ramadi had been paying local insurgents protection money, as much as $70,000 a month. Al Qaeda in Iraq demanded the money. “What we have now is a very severe split. Open warfare isn’t far behind,” he said.

  • What? says:

    So the other shoe drops and AQ delivers on their promise to attack in the West of Iraq. So far West they were actually in Jordan.
    I’m of the school of thinking that says this shows AQ is as weak and foolish as it is strong and murderous. They are getting beaten so badly in Iraq that they had to choose a soft target out of country to guarentee operational success, which again is a net loss just like that fiasco killing all those day laborers in Iraq.
    They are hell bent on cutting off the infidels head in between shooting themselves in the foot and blowing up fellow muslims. They are almost as dangerous an enemy to themselves as our trained soldiers are.

  • john beard says:

    I am more intrested in Ayman al-Zawahri’s reaction to the bombings in Amman. He has already told Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that he risked turning the population against Al Qaeda in that letter that was interceted.
    This strike in Amman may have a dual purpose, enraging the local Sunni population and the Al Qaeda leadership, maybe fracturing that leadership.

  • john beard says:

    “Interesting how on Al Jazeera’s website there’s barely a hint of the bombing, let alone mention of the protests against Zarqawi.”
    Maybe they were just slow on the story but their is plenty up now:
    “Two high-ranking Palestinian security officials, a senior Palestinian banker and the commercial attache at the Palestinian embassy in Cairo have died in the bombings in Jordan, the Palestinian envoy to Amman said.”
    Zarqawi may have stepped on it good this time!

  • Tom W. says:

    The Jordanian authorities always told us Zarqawi was a dumb street thug more than anything. He reminds me of Al Pacino in the movie Scarface, a guy making increasingly self-destructive decisions because his power has gone to his head, but his little sycophants are too afraid to set him straight.
    Let’s hope Zarq comes to the same end as Al Pacino in Scarface.

  • Right Wing Nutter says:

    While somewhat gratified at the reaction of the Arab Street I’ve got to wonder… Given the imperceptable effect of the Arab Street on the events of the past three years, why should we really care now that they rage against having their own families blown up?
    A goodly chunk of me grieves at the pointless killing, but it’s the same chunk that grieves when Israeli civilians are mass murdered while shopping, riding to work, etc. Another chunk of me remembers the celebrations after 9/11. The grief is tempered by the realization that a successful attack on the US could have that same Arab Street handing out candy again.

  • john beard says:

    Hey rightwingnut, just in September 3 KBR drivers were murdered while in a convoy. One driver was pulled from the truck, doused, burned alive while little kids jumped around and threw straw on him… read this it will make you sick:
    I have been back for two months and still have a lot of friends over there, ( I was KBR also), a couple emailed me that the story was not exactly right. They did not get lost as the article states. The road was blockaded was the reason for the military turning onto a dead end street. The military was inside the hummers with the hatches closed in anticipation of a rock attack which happens every time we went thru this town.
    Iraq is just a crazy place. I am not sure its worth the dollars or lives we are investing in it. But I don’t think we can quit now either. The whole of the middle east is messed up.

  • Scott Free says:

    Bush may go down in history as one of the greatest masters of goe-political Judo. After the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history, he flipped the enemy into his own back yard, where every move he makes kills his own.

  • hamidreza says:

    Bill, the article you link on the double suicide attack by al-Qaeda on a recruiting station in Tikrit is interesting. As there must be few Shiites in this home town of Saddam, I am pretty sure that the station was recruiting Sunnis to join the police force and/or the Iraqi army.
    Would this be the first time that al-Qaeda has directed its suicider weapon at the Sunni Baathists and the Sunni population? I dont believe Tikrit ever was the target of suiciders except for when they were attacking passing convoys.
    If it is the case that al-Qaeda is now directing its fury at the Baathists, then that would be a gross miscalculation on their part, which has been forced on them. This would indicate the official end to their alliance – and only cause the Baathists to move to the side of the central government sooner.
    Also there were 5 al-Qaeda members who were “picked up” by US forces in Ramadi. Guess who is informing on their location, so that they can simply be picked up without a fight…

  • Matthew says:

    I’ve noticed that a tactical move made by the enemy is to execute a high-profile attack on targets in Baghdad or elsewhere to try to “steal the MNF’s thunder” very soon after they are attacked. The idea is to draw attention away from their losses and make Iraq look more dangerous and insecure. And it works too. Who’s covering the successful joint operation in Husaybah now?

  • Matthew says:

    Another thing, wouldn’t something like the attack in Jordan be construed by some in the Arab world as a plot by Mossad or the CIA or whoever to discredit the “freedom fighters” and help America and Israel?

  • Mac says:

    You know al-Zarqawi has real problems when his conservative hometown is trashing his moves.
    ‘Everyone here is angry and disgusted’
    From Rana Sabbagh-Gargour in Zarqa
    MOST relatives of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi have fled from his home town of Zarqa, a deeply conservative enclave close to the Jordanian capital.
    Even those who remain voiced disquiet at the carnage wrought by the town’s most infamous son

  • serurier says:

    We lose 3 soldiers in Karabilah , I believe some Husaybah’s terrorists run to Karabilah .

  • Kat-missouri says:

    Double and Triple bombings on the same day is interesting. Let’s not forget that Iraq has been pretty far off the radar lately with the two weeks of French Riots. Whenever they don’t get the attention they want for daily activities, they go pull a big one somewhere.
    You can pretty much judge when a big one is coming from this alone. Of course, the Jordan ones would have had to be planned for awhile, but giving the nod to go once the operation is in place is a matter of timing.
    Both of these points are made by Zawahiri in “Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner” and the information we have that the attacks on 9/11 were originally planned for a different date.

  • TallDave says:

    I am more intrested in Ayman al-Zawahri’s reaction to the bombings in Amman. He has already told Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that he risked turning the population against Al Qaeda in that letter that was interceted.
    Zarqawi’s response was to pretend that Zawahiri had not sent the letter. He claimed the letter was fake. Hey, if you don’t like your orders, you can always blame them on an infidel plot and ignore them…

  • Justin Capone says:

    The letter was not to Zarqawi, the government just said that in order to get the media to pay attention to it. The letter was to a Zawahiri aid (which was captured south of Baghdad) it was basically a set of guidelines and info that should reach the ears of the leadership of al-Qaeda in Iraq and intel has no idea if the al-Qaeda in Iraq leadership got the info relayed to them.
    Regardless, Zawahiri and Bin Laden have no control whatsoever over Zarqawi and they aren’t going to break with him because a visable break would split the movement and Zarqawi is far more powerful with more money and men then the origional al-Qaeda leaders that have spent the past four years hiding in a cave in the middle of nowhere.

  • desert rat says:

    Orders? the big Z don’t take no stinkin’ orders!
    These fellows are Border Bamdits with illusions of greatness. Self deluded Mohammedans. The big Z answers to allah, not to a half blind doctor, living in a cave, far from the fight.
    Chances are better than even that the “Letter” WAS a phoney. If the letter was forged, at least we are doing something positive, if the letter was genuine, it exposed some wedge issues at the core of the Jihadist network.
    The hunt for the big Z is now, more than ever, Police work. Umless of course he is seeking sanctuary Damascus and the Syrians do not turn him over.

  • desert rat says:

    sanctuary ‘in’ Damsacus
    sanctuary ‘from’ Damascus
    or insert word of your own.

  • ikez78 says:

    There was just a poll on FOXNEWS today of the public with well over 50% saying that the media has done a poor job of covering Iraq, over 50% saying that they focus way too heavily on negative news. Maybe the public does realize they aren’t getting the whole truth, and they just dont know where to get it. I was thinking about making flyers for this website to start handing out at my school and my work. What do you think Bill?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    “double suicide attack by al-Qaeda on a recruiting station in Tikrit is interesting.”
    There was a rash of suicide bombings in Tikrit around the June timeframe. Everytime there is a break in the so called “unified position” of Sunni’s in Tikrit, the suicide bombers show up to send a message.
    AlQueda has a long and relatively successful history of extorting support and appeasement from various countries and groups in the world.
    Junior sunni officers actually joining the New Iraqi military would make it ifinitely more difficult for AlQueda, and the insugency in general to operate. The Iraqi junior officers know who the Saddam loyalists are, just as junior US officers know which senior officers are “nuke em all commie haters or Friends of Ted(Kennedy)”.

  • Mike Hanley says:

    Does it bother anyone that only some hundreds turned out to protest? Should I be pleased and regard this as a first step in the right direction? Unfortunately, I feel like it is a typically weak showing and that there is no underlying rage amongst the majority of Arabs against this kind of terrorism, even when it is directed at them.
    Introspection and self-criticism don’t seem to be hallmarks of the Arab culture.

  • ikez78 says:

    Saddam general, insurgency leader dead today?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Mike Hanley,
    “Does it bother anyone that only some hundreds turned out to protest?”
    Most of the Middle East populance has been in the “do as you are told” mold for decades. While Jordan might be termed a “transitioning democracy”, it is still functionally a Kingdom.
    Protesting without the consent of the King/permit is something folks in that part of the world are unfamiliar with(it usually comes with a jail sentence). A few hundred spontaneous protestors mean a lot more than the normal “Government Sponsored” protests.

  • Mirco says:

    What if the real target of the attack were not the hotel, but the people inside the hotels?
    Were the palestinians officials in the Hotel and the banker prominent figures?
    What will happen after their death in the palestinian’s political/military environment?

  • Terror in Jordan and Wartime “Metrics”

    The terror bombings in Amman were horrendous, as all such events are meant to be, but it is worth wondering how they fit into the overall war on Islamic fascism and whether they are evidence (metrics) of success or failure

  • Media Lies says:

    The suicide bombings in Amman, Jordan….

    ….provoked an angry response from Jordanians, who protested in the hundreds, shouting, “Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!” and “We sacrifice our live…

  • fcw says:

    It didn’t take long for them to redirect this:
    Many in Jordan See Old Enemy in Attack: Israel
    Published: November 12, 2005
    ZARQA, Jordan, Nov. 11 – The Maktoum Mosque was crowded with worshipers for Friday Prayer as the imam sharply criticized the suicide attacks on three hotels in Amman, saying those who committed the crimes were not Muslims, no matter what they called themselves.
    Skip to next paragraph
    Enlarge This Image
    Shawn Baldwin for The New York Times
    The scene Friday night in Zarqa near a family home and former residence, left, of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, chief of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
    Afterward, on the street, people agreed that whoever committed such an act could not be a Muslim. But many meant this literally, that the attack must have been carried out by outsiders, namely Israeli agents.
    “Who said it is them?” asked Ahmed al-Zawahrah, referring to claims that members of a radical Islamic group were behind the blasts. “It could be Israel.” …


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