Bookmark and Share

Open the online Arabic language course

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Arabic: 'abu mus¢abi z-zarqāwiyy
Real name: Ahmad Fadil an-Nazal al-Khalaylah

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

The dead Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

The dead Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Warning: Disturbing content

(1966-2006) Jordanian citizen, leader of a militant Islamist network, operating principally in Iraq since 2001, opposing the US-led occupation force and the forces of the Iraqi interim government. Some reports claim that he is dead since 2002, and some speculations go as far as suggesting that he has never lived.
Zarqawi is a man whose life is spun in both legends and conflicting accusations. Although there is no doubt that he is involved in many violent actions, he is probably not guilty of all he is accused for. The gravest accusation, that he was directly involved in planning the September 11, 2001 attacks on USA, has been refuted. An example of the conflicting stories concerning al-Zarqawi is that he sometimes has a wooden leg, and sometimes not.
From the reports available, Zarqawi is not an intellectual leader, rather a great organizer and perhaps a charismatic leader. The ideas he follows are defined by other Islamists. He is usually linked to Ansar al-Islam, an Kurdish Islamist organization operating all over Iraq but most likely led from Oslo, Norway.


The information below is a compilation of what appears to be the most reliable sources. Much of this might however be propaganda either in favour of or against Zarqawi. Hence, nothing below should be considered absolute factual.

1966 October 20?: Born in or near Zarqa, Jordan. His family was poor, and belonged to the Beni Hassan tribe.
1983: Leaves school, and start a life of crime and alcohol.
1980's: Is jailed for sexual assault.
1989: Zarqawi leaves his old life behind, goes to Afghanistan, to join the Muslim resistance to the Soviet invading forces.
1990's: According to some reports, Zarqawi goes to Europe and founds the al-Tawhid group, aiming at armed and propaganda work to promote Islam in Western countries.
1992: According to some reports, Zarqawi is arrested in Jordan for conspiracy to overthrow the monarchy.
1999: Zarqawi is released from prison. He organizes an attempt to blow up an international hotel in Amman, but does not succeed. He then flees Jordan, and settles in either Pakistan or Afghanistan.
— Forms a militant Islamist group in Afghanistan, but not in cooperation with Al-Qa'ida.
2001: Zarqawi is supposed to be imprisoned in Jordan, then released, then he flees Jordan, and is eventually sentenced to death in absentia for the acts of 1999.
2002: Reports indicate that Zarqawi is involved in a killing in Jordan.
2003 February 5: al-Zarqawi is accused of being one link between al-Qa'ida and Saddam Hussein, hence giving legitimacy for the planned US-invasion of Iraq, taking place in late March. This accusation would later be proven to have based itself on false intelligence.
2004: Zarqawi appears to have established himself in Iraq, allegedly appearing on low quality films distributed through websites where he threatens and murders hostages. There is much dissent whether it is Zarqawi at all on these films.

By Tore Kjeilen