May 26, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 912

MEMRI TV Monitor Project – First Known Footage of Al-Qaeda Leader in Iraq: Al-Zarqawi on Al-Jazeera TV

May 26, 2005
Special Dispatch No. 912

Yesterday, as part of a special background profile, Al-Jazeera aired the first known video footage of Al-Qa'ida leader in Iraq, Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi. The following are excerpts from the profile. To view the clip, visit

Reporter: "Perhaps no man has experienced the paradox of living in the dark while all the world's spotlights are focused on him as much as the mysterious Jordanian, Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi.

"This makes him somewhat similar to Osama Bin Laden and the rest of the Al-Qaeda leaders. He differs from them in that he has refrained from sending televised messages, especially in the past two years, in which his star shone as the most brutal leader of the armed militants fighting the Americans in Iraq.

"Before that, only a few people had heard the name Al-Zarqawi or knew what he looked like. But when he began to be pursued as America's most wanted man in Iraq, this myth gave rise to attempts to describe him as a symbol of the struggle by some, and a horrifying nightmare by others, while questions regarding his personality and goals still arouse much controversy."

Voice of Al-Zarqawi:"With Allah's help, we raid them as they raid us, and attack them as they attack us."

Reporter: "Al-Zarqawi, whose real name is Ahmad Fadil Nazzal Al-Khalayla, was born in 1966 in the Jordanian city of Zarqa, to a family from the Bani Hasan tribe. He spent his childhood in a poor and crowded environment, and in his teens, he became what they call a neighborhood bully. He soon turned to religion and began to frequent mosques, where he made friends with members in Islamic groups calling for Jihad.

"In the late 1980's, Al-Zarqawi joined the so-called 'Jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.' There he met a man named Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdissi, and after returning to Jordan, the two formed what came to be known as the 'Al-Tawhid' group. Its members were arrested by Jordanian security forces in 1994, and were tried in the State Security court.

"Al-Zarqawi's five years in jail shaped his personality more and more. The court later sentenced to death in absentia after convicting him of planning the assassination of the American diplomat Thomas Foley [sic. The diplomat's real name was Laurence Foley] in Amman. His personality led him to Iraq, where he engaged in bloody incursions with both the Americans and the Iraqi security forces.

"This enabled him to reach an agreement with Osama Bin Laden. The two united, and Bin Laden appointed Al-Zarqawi 'Emir' of the so-called 'Qaedat Al-Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers (Iraq).'"

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