Quickly, the breaking news and the live coverage of the death of al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, the Jordanian Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was accompanied by the re-transmission of the two-month old videotape in which he appeared firing weapons. The images of al Zarqawi as he threatened and waved his weapons remained dominant in local and satellite television coverage, until a picture of his dead body was broadcast garnered all the interest.
Despite the fact that daily images from Iraq often contain violence and brutality, there is no doubt a few of them will remain in our memory, such as the fall of Saddam’s statue, his sons Uday and Qusay dead, the former Iraqi dictator emerging from a whole in the ground, the pictures of Abu Ghraib, and today, the image of a dead al Zarqawi.
The man, who became somewhat of a legend, appeared for the first time in public in Iraq, as he beheaded the US hostage Nicholas Berg, despite his face being off camera. Al Zarqawi and his followers adopted the method of videotaping the beheading with cries of “God is Great!” in the background, without showing the face of the executioner, endorsing the cruelty of what us now referred to as resistance in Iraq.
It seems, however, that al Zarqawi could not resist his narcissistic tendencies and followed in the footsteps of his mentor, Osama bin Laden. In his last video, he imitated the al Qaeda’s leader and broadcast the tape on the internet. His downfall was that he did not benefit from bin Laden’s experience, as he changes the background in every videotaped appearance. When al Zarqawi was photographed in a desert area of Iraq, he allowed geologists to pinpoint his location. It appears his latest videotape provided investigators with enough clues to track him down.
Undoubtedly, al Zarqawi is the cruelest symbol of the new breed of terrorists who have been able to exploit the weapons provided by globalization. Despite continued talk of how many individuals are attracted to this violent type of behavior and their use of the internet to further their aims, a new study has concluded differently. Its investigation of extremist websites in Arabic revealed that the most popular Jihadist site ranked 72 in a list of Arabic-language websites, whereas the first Islamist site ranked 34. Therefore, claims that many young Arabs are supporters of bin Laden and al Zarqawi are exaggerated.
Terrorists have the necessary funds and can make use of the latest technology and tools of modernity, such cameras, phones and the internet. But their aim remains to destroy this modernity and globalization, even at a cost of their own lives.