‘Zarqawi replaced as head of Iraqi resistance’
AMMAN: Iraq’s resistance has replaced Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as political head of the rebels, confining him to a military role, the son of Osama bin Laden’s mentor said on Sunday.
“The Iraqi resistance’s high command asked Zarqawi to give up his political role and replaced him with an Iraqi, because of several mistakes he made,” said Hudayf Azzam, who claims close contacts with the rebels.
“Zarqawi’s role has been limited to military action,” said Azzam, whose late father Abdullah Azzam was the mentor of bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda boss.
“Zarqawi bowed to the orders two weeks ago and was replaced by Iraqi national Abdullah bin Rashed al-Baghdadi,” Azzam said.
Azzam, 35, whose father was known as the “prince of mujahedeens”, said he regularly received “credible information on the resistance in Iraq”. He said Zarqawi “made many political mistakes”, including “the creation of an independent organisation, Al-Qaeda in Iraq”. “Zarqawi also took the liberty of speaking in the name of the Iraqi people and resistance, a role which belongs only to the Iraqis,” Azzam said.
As a result “the resistance command inside and outside Iraq, including imams, criticised him and after long discussions demanded that he be confined to military action”, Azzam said. “Zarqawi pledged not to carry out any more attacks against Iraq’s neighbours after having been criticised for these operations which are considered a violation of sharia (Islamic law),” Azzam said. Nevertheless, the Amman-based Azzam insisted that Zarqawi remains strong on the ground. “He is stronger than before on the battlefield and the resistance has profited from his military experience,” he said.
“Five organisations - the Mujahedeen Army, Ansar al-Islam (also known as Ansar al-Sunna), the Islamic Army for the Liberation of Iraq, Al-Tawid Wal Hujra and Revolution 20 Brigades - have rallied around Zarqawi,” he said.
Azzam also expected “several mistakes made in the past, such as some hostage-taking, not to occur again”. Asked about the wave of abductions in Iraq targeting journalists, Azzam said, “Not all journalists are innocent.”
“The resistance is against the occupiers. It is a natural and legitimate right,” he said.
Azzam said that last week’s liberation of US hostage Jill Carroll, the Christian Science Monitor journalist who was held in Iraq for 12 weeks, allowed the release from jail of “wives and sisters of resistance brothers”. “When the American army cannot succeed in arresting resistance members, they arrest their wives or other members of their family,” Azzam said. AFP