Bush: Zarqawi's Death, New Iraqi Cabinet Triumphs for Freedom
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 11, 2006 Last week's death of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the filling of critical Iraqi cabinet positions were triumphs for the cause of freedom, President Bush said yesterday.
"The killing of Zarqawi is an important victory in the global war on terror," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "The Iraqi people have completed a democratic government that is determined to defend them, and freedom has achieved a great victory in the heart of the Middle East."
In the wake of these recent triumphs, Bush said he will meet tomorrow with his national security team and other key cabinet members to discuss the way ahead in Iraq. On June 13, Iraq's new ambassador to the U.S. will join Bush's cabinet in a conference call with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to determine how best to move forward, he said.
"Together we will determine how to best deploy America's resources in Iraq and achieve our shared goal of an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself," Bush said.
Bush said he was encouraged by Maliki's determination to defeat the insurgents and bring security and the rule of law to all Iraqis, and he praised the completion of Maliki's cabinet with the naming of new ministers of defense, interior and national security.
"These new leaders will help the government address its top priorities: reconciliation, reconstruction, and putting an end to the kidnappings, beheadings and suicide bombings," the president said.
The president also praised U.S. troop efforts in Iraq. "In the past three years, our troops have overthrown a cruel dictator, fought the terrorists and insurgents house to house, and trained Iraqi forces to defend their new democracy," he said.
The Jordanian-born Zarqawi was the operational commander of al Qaeda in Iraq. Bush said even prior to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Zarqawi had been heavily involved in terror operations. "He ran a camp in Afghanistan that trained terrorists -- until coalition forces destroyed that camp," he said.
Zarqawi personally beheaded American hostages and other civilians in Iraq, he masterminded the destruction of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, and he was responsible for the assassination of an American diplomat in Jordan and the bombing of hotels in Amman, Bush said.
The president said Zarqawi swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden, who called him the "Prince of al Qaeda in Iraq," and instructed terrorists around the world to obey him.
"His goals in Iraq were clear: He wanted to stop the rise of democracy, drive coalition forces out, incite a civil war, and turn that country into a safe haven from which al Qaeda could launch new attacks on America and other free nations," he said. "Instead, Zarqawi died in the free and democratic Iraq that he fought so hard to prevent, and the world is better off because this violent man will never kill again."