Saturday, May 28, 2005

London Times: Zarqawi Fled to Iran

In their Sunday edition, the Times Online (UK) reports that terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has fled to Iran for surgery to remove shrapnel wounds suffered during Operation Matador three weeks ago.
IRAQ's most wanted terrorist has fled the country for emergency surgery after an American airstrike left him with shrapnel lodged in his chest, according to a senior insurgent commander in close contact with his group.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has a $25m bounty on his head after being blamed for suicide bombings, assassinations and the beheadings of western hostages including Ken Bigley, the Liverpool engineer is now believed to be in Iran.

He has suffered from bouts of high fever since being wounded by a missile that struck his convoy three weeks ago as he fled an American offensive near the town of al-Qaim in northwestern Iraq, the commander said.

His condition late last week was described as stable, but supporters were said to be preparing to move him to another non-Arab country for an operation to remove the shrapnel.
Zarqawi's reported destination seems odd, given that Shiite-dominated Iran has professed little love for his terrorist activities against the Shiites in Iraq. Following are excerpts from an opinion piece in the Tehran Times (emphasis added):
Rumors that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, is dead or seriously injured have placed a cloud over the future of the terrorist group.

Al-Zarqawi's charisma and leadership skills helped turn this dangerous terrorist into a modern-day legend.

Therefore, his death would be a serious blow to Arab terrorist groups operating in Iraq. However, it would not signal the end.

Undoubtedly, the newly appointed leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hafs al-Qarni, will follow al-Zarqawi's path because most Arab terrorists ascribe to the Wahhabi school of thought.

This dangerous and backwards sect has two main objectives: opposing all progressive Islamic thought and fighting against the Shias.

Although heightened security measures in violation of democratic principles may be necessary for a short while, the Iraqi government must use the current opportunity provided by al-Zarqawi's absence to deliver the death blow to his terrorist group.
Notice that the writer takes pains to describe Zarqawi and al Qaeda as "terrorists", and further, "Arab terrorists" of the "Wahhabi school of thought". Iranians are not Arabs, and Wahhabism is not welcome under the Iranian Shiite mullahs.

It's a safe bet that everything published in the Tehran Times is approved by the mullahs running Iran. If this isn't part of a ruse it begs the question: what kind of welcome can Zarqawi expect in Iran?

Update: From Reuters:
TEHRAN, MAY 29: Iran denied on Sunday a British newspaper report that Al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had fled to the Islamic republic after being injured in a US missile attack.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said the report in the Sunday Times newspaper was without foundation. ‘‘This is an unprofessional kind of fabricating news,’’ Asefi told a weekly news conference. ‘‘Iran is a clear and transparent country, where such covert activities do not take place.’’
Alright, now I'm really suspicious.