Latest Zarqawi Message 'An Outrage,' Myers Says
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2005 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today called a purported new audio message from fugitive terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi "an outrage."
In a message posted on some Islamic Web sites today, a speaker introduced as Zarqawi states that Muslims killing innocent Muslims is religiously sanctioned in a holy war.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who met with reporters along with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. John Abizaid, said he wasn't surprised Zarqawi would make such a pronouncement.
"Think about it," Myers said. "What he says is it's OK for Muslims to kill Muslims, and not just any Muslims, but innocent men, women and children. And that's what he's been doing. If you look at the statistics over the last couple of weeks, a lot of Iraqi men, women and children have died because this violent extremist is trying to convince others do to it. ... (Zarqawi) just has absolutely no moral foundation. It's an outrage."
The Jordanian-born Zarqawi is the most wanted terrorist in Iraq, and the United States has pledged to pay $25 million for information leading to his death or capture.
Noting that Zarqawi is aligned with Osama bin Laden, leader of the al Qaeda terror network, Myers said one of Zarqawi's stated goals is to start a civil war in Iraq. "He's trying to keep freedom from happening in the Middle East," and will go to any length to do so, the general said. "It's an absolute outrage," he added. "He's a criminal for sure, probably worse." But Myers expressed optimism that Zarqawi won't get his wish for civil war.
"The Iraqi government is strong," the chairman said, "and the Iraqi public in the recent polling shows that they're strong as well and understand what this is all about. The Iraqi public is as outraged as the world is, and should be, against his tactics and his methods."
Abizaid said terrorists don't represent the prevailing view in the region. "People like Zarqawi and bin Laden are regarded by the whole region as being extremists," he said, adding that all they have to offer is "a dark, dark way ahead."
"People don't believe in them, and they don't want them to win," Abizaid said. "They want to enable their own government to win the battle, and that's why the Iraqis are going to win on their own."
Rumsfeld noted that the tide in the Middle East has turned away from extremism. "It may not be newsworthy, but the reality is that in many parts of that section of the world, moderates are prevailing," he said. "And in the struggle between the extremists and the moderates in that state, if you look in Afghanistan, you look in Iraq, you look in other parts of the region -- the Palestinian Authority had an election -- there are things happening that are encouraging, that suggest that there is a movement towards moderation, as opposed to extremism."