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Fallujah Sheikh Says Al-Zarqawi Died On Friday
Comment: This is beyond a joke. Al-Zarqawi has died or been captured so many time, we have had to create an archive just to document it all. Has Al-Zarqawi's mythical status elevated to the point where other people are claiming to be him and then being killed? Whatever the explanation, Al-Zarqawi is the poster boy for the justification of American troops remaining in Iraq.
The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq - died on Friday and his body is in Fallujah's cemetary, an Iraqi Sunni sheikh, Ammar Abdel Rahim Nasir, has told the Saudi on-line newspaper Al-Medina. He claims that gunfights which broke out in Fallujah in the last few days involved militants trying to protect the insurgency leader's tomb from a group of American soldiers patrolling the area.
During a telephone conversation from the city of Fallujah with the Saudi newspaper, Nasir said al-Zarqawi was taken there after being injured in the city of Ramadi around three weeks ago, and may have been treated by two doctors who had worked with his aides in Baghdad. He said the two doctors had stopped a serious haemorrhage in al-Zarqawi's intestines, but that after his condition worsened last week, the militant died on Friday.
Nasir adds that in his will the insurgent leader left the order that no funeral should be held for him and the right to announce his death should be left to the al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden.
The Al-Medina newspaper reports that it also called the headmaster of a school in Fallujah, who preferred to remain anonymous, but confirmed that many people in the city were aware of the fact that al-Zarqawi had recently been taken to the city.
Sheikh Nasir's claims appear to correspond with reports several weeks ago that al-Zarqawi had been injured and taken to Ramadi hospital for emergency treatment, and with messages on the Internet talking of two Arab doctors accompanying him. Al-Zarqawi was reported to have been seen at the hospital on April 27. The hospital's director told an Iraq-based newspaper that US troops later surrounded and raided the entire building, searching for the Jordanian militant.
Only two days ago, an audio message attributed to al-Zarqawi was posted on the Internet, in which he assured his followers that he had only been lightly injured. Following the message, the US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned countries neighbouring Iraq not to give any medical assistance to al-Zarqawi. "Our current theory is that he is in Iraq," he said. "Were a neighbouring country to take him in and provide medical assistance or haven for him, they obviously would be associating themselves with a major linkage in the al-Qaeda network, and a person who has a great deal of blood on his hands," Rumsfeld continued. "And that's something that people would want to take note of."