A New Citizen of Hell
'The Revolt of Islam', 9th Canto, George Gordon, Lord Byron
Since it would be wrong to celebrate the death of another human being, Porcupine instead chose to ‘commemorate’ the slaying of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Hibhib yesterday by going to see the film ‘United 93'.
Naturally, this will be downplayed as much as possible in Massachusetts. The only openly elated response came from a terrorism expert, Evan Kohnman, as he was interviewed on WBZ radio. “This isn’t secret any more, it’s open source, but there have already been 14 additional raids in Baghdad just today. They got everything – laptops, phones, credit cards – everything, when they went in.” By now, that figure has increased to 39 raids. However, it is worth noting that WBZ had located another terrorism expert almost immediately, a woman in Rome with experience writing about the Red Brigade, who patiently explained that the death of Al-Zarqawi would make no difference, as these cells were independent of one another. ANYTHING to dampen down any sense of accomplishment!
Our representatives have been able to restrain themselves a little better. “Zarqawi was a vicious terrorist organizer and murderer, and our troops and the Iraqi security forces both deserve great credit for tracking him down. We all hope his death marks the beginning of the end of the strength of the foreign terrorist network in Iraq that has caused so much death and destruction” said Sen. Edward Kennedy. His perfunctory statement at least acknowledges a victory, unlike the Meehan statement of ‘it doesn’t matter’. Porcupine cannot help but wonder if Osama bin Laden were captured, would THAT not matter to the Massachusetts delegation, like the capture of Hussein didn’t?
This is an enormous victory against the insurgents in Iraq and against the terror movement worldwide. Zarqawi was a master of electronic, especially Internet, communication and he will not be easily replaced. Also, we were able to capture and kill him while he was in a meeting with his most trusted and able aides, also knocking out that second tier of operations. While U.S. officials say that it was his ‘spiritual advisor’ who ‘dimed’ him out, another version has emerged as well. A town near Hibhib is a centre for brewing beer in Iraq, and as a good Muslim, Zarqawi took offense at that. He ordered several town worthies beheaded (the source of the recent nine heads in a box) and a busload of children killed as punishment. The residents of the town informed the U.S. forces that Zarqawi was on his way to meet his new Number 2 in Hibhib, and U.S. forces were able to trail that person to the safe house, and then execute the strike. The two versions are not incompatible, as the spiritual advisor is not named. It would make sense that Zarqawi would be killed over his increasing and unrelenting slaughter of members of the Shiite majority in Iraq. He lived long enough to be put upon a stretcher, and to realize that he was in the hands of U.S. forces before he died.
Porcupine wanted to see ‘United 93’ because it was ruthless men like Zarqawi who actually planned the World Trade Center attacks. In the film, the terrorists were believable, not rabid dogs, and it fascinates Porcupine how they could stand on line quietly for their tickets, take their seats, and watch the old, young and in-between file onto the plane – knowing that they would murder them all. Power? Perhaps. Glory? For Allah. Cruelty? Not really. Just a sincere hatred of infidels, and a dedication to radical Islam and jihad.
Many real life figures, like the FAA’s Ben Sliney, played themselves in the film, and its immediacy and comprehension resembles a documentary. We hadn’t had a hijacking in decades in this country, let alone a fatal mission like this, and the scenes of air traffic controllers, military, and airline personnel all mentally dusting off long unused protocols is fair and accurate. The military was especially frustrated, and it is interesting that the movie credits note that President Bush had authorized military force at 10:18 a.m., but the order was not passed along, as there were concerns about accidental shootings. When Sliney asks at one point how many planes were in the air (and he ordered ALL U.S. air traffic grounded, a courageous and expensive act), the reply was, “About 4,500’. Think about that – at any time, there are over 4,000 aircraft crossing the skies over our heads – and it only took 4 to wreak the havoc of 9/11.
The movie had a prototypical European passenger who insisted that we mustn’t anger these men, and they would demand a ransom, and all would be well – the template for hijackings in Europe for decades. That wasn’t the case here, but it makes the European reaction to the terrorist violence easier to understand in a way. The last fifteen minutes of 'United 93' are as good as the much bally-hood first fifteen minutes of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ in portraying the chaos, heroism, and confusion that was on that plane, and the inevitable questions within yourself of, ‘what would I have done?’.
So Zarqawi is dead. Now, you can watch this excellent and painful film with the full knowledge that not only these minions, but the grand puppet master has paid the ultimate price for his actions, and died knowing that he was in the hands of his enemy, even as the passengers of United 93 struggled against theirs.