Air raid kills al-Qaeda’s Zarqawi

It would appear the butcher of Baghdad has been killed by the US. The Jordanian-born militant, who is believed to have personally beheaded several Western hostages including Ken Bigley, a Liverpool engineer, was the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq after swearing allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2004. He had a $25 million bounty on his head.

This report from News.com

THE al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in a US air attack near Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said today.

“Today, al-Zarqawi was eliminated,” Mr Maliki told a news conference. His statement drew loud applause in the hall where he made the announcement.

ABC news reported that US helicopters hit a house near Baquba, 65km north of Baghdad, at sunset yesterday.

“Zarqawi was apparently injured at first … The Americans found him. They handed him over to the Iraqis and he later died of his injuries,” ABC said.

The BBC has an obituary and mentions Zarquawi was a rival of Bin Laden.

Both men rose to prominence as “Afghan Arabs” – leading foreign fighters in the “jihad” against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

It was a far cry from Zarqawi’s youth as a petty criminal in Jordan, remembered by those who knew him as a simple, quick-tempered and barely literate gangster.

Another nail in al-Qaeda‘s coffin.