So why is Ayman al-Zawahiri praising him like a great, lost leader? Not too long ago, after we got Zarqawi, some on the liberal side of things said this was all a publicity stunt, that Zarqawi was just another terrorist, like thousands of others, and that in fact his forces were only 10% of the insurgency in terms of numbers. Some speculated that based on the letters Zawahiri sent him that Al Qaeda would be relieved that he was gone. He was a little too wild for their taste and was making them look bad. Well, I’ll take it from the horse’s mouth, Zawahiri himself:
“May God rest his soul and allow him to reside in his vast heavens, and make his martyrdom a light for the allies of God and fire and destruction for the enemies of God, the crusaders and their treacherous agents and the charlatans who deal in religion,” al-Zawahiri says. “There isn’t a single person who’ll be killed that we won’t get vengeance for, God willing.”
Pretty strong words. This certainly does not say “We’re glad to be rid of him”.
Killing Zarqawi won’t end the insurgency, but with each step along the way, taking out their leadership, we’re weakening their capability. There will be followers who try to fill the shoes of those who have been taken out, but they won’t be as sneaky, and they won’t be as skilled. They’ll be a danger, but they will be less dangerous.
If there’s one thing I’d wish is that the U.S. government would work harder to help Pakistan get rid of the madrassas. I’ve heard a little here and there that we’re encouraging Saudi Arabia to do this, and this is good. But we need to be tackling this problem everywhere. The madrassas create fodder for the terrorist groups. We need to not only be fighting the Islamofascists that currently exist, but also help governments shut down the very “factories” where they are inculcated from a young age. The madrassas are addressing a real need, but they are not the solution. The madrassas provide a place where poor parents can send their children for schooling, and they get 3 meals a day. The problem is the only schooling they’re getting is in the strict, radical, fundamentalist teachings of certain ideologues. They’re basically brainwashing camps. What would be great would be to help the governments set up free schools where children could get a real education, and truly become civilized members of their respective societies. I’m not saying we have to come in and set the curriculum for them. That would be an insult, but we could certainly help with ideas, and provide some guidance.
It’s not only the terrorists that need to be fought. The ideology needs to be defeated as well. Attempting to bring democracy to countries in the Middle East is a noble goal, which I think will bear fruit if we keep our eyes on the prize. It is one method of defeating the radicals. However, in the places where there is little or no democratic program, I think the madrassas need to be addressed.