By Nir Rosen
Editor’s note: With the death this week of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi, many experts are predicting that the Iraqi insurgency will find itself crippled and leaderless. But according to Nir Rosen, one of the only Western journalists to have reported extensively from inside the Iraqi insurgency, the ideologies that propelled Zarqawi into his leadership role will soon find another champion, and the sectarian conflict engulfing the country will continue to worsen.
Who was Zarqawi? What drove him to his murderous ends? And what can we learn from his death? Rosen, who has spent the last three years covering the Iraqi conflict, lays out some answers.
Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the “Sheikh of the Slaughterers,” is dead. So dies an American myth—that of the “most wanted man” in Iraq. But other myths persist: that Zarqawi’s death will have positive consequences; or that “victory,” whatever that might mean, is possible in Iraq in the wake of Zarqawi’s death.
If we’re to evaluate those claims, we must first ask: Who was Zarqawi and what does his passing portend?
Born in 1966 as Ahmad Fadhil Nazal al Khalaylah, Zarqawi hailed from the Jordanian town of Zarqa, a poor city north of Amman, Jordan. The region of Zarqa had been the capital of radical Islam in Jordan since the 1960s. It also produced most of the Jordanian jihadis now fighting in Iraq.
Zarqawi, who took his city as his namesake, had been a wild young man with no interest in religion. A high school dropout, he had a reputation for getting tattoos, drinking alcohol and getting into fights, ending up in jail. Like many disaffected Muslim youths, he was moved by stories of mujahedin heroism against the Russians in Afghanistan. By the time he arrived, however, as a 23-year-old, the Russians had withdrawn, and Zarqawi took up arms in the country’s civil war.
His journey to Afghanistan was arranged by the Abd Allah Azzam’s Office of Services and Jihad, then run by Azzam’s follower Sheikh Abdel Majid al Majali, or Abu Qutaiba. Azzam’s son Hudheifa told me that in 1989 he had picked up Zarqawi from the airport in Peshawar, Pakistan, and took him to the Beit al Shuhada rest house. “Zarqawi was a very simple person, silent, he didn’t talk. As a witness I can say that he was very well trained in military skills, especially in making bombs. In English you say “braveheart,” but he had a dead heart, he was never scared. Bin Ladin wanted Zarqawi to join Al Qaeda but he didn’t like Al Qaeda’s ideology so he left for Khost. I saw him in Gardez and Khost; if he was alone against a thousand soldiers he would not go back. He was not a leader at the time, just an ordinary person and a good fighter.
In Afghanistan Zarqawi learned not only military skills but also received ideological training, in Salafi jihadism. Named after “al Salaf al Salih,” or the virtuous predecessors, meaning the companions of the Prophet Mohammed and their followers, Salafis sought to purify Islam of innovations introduced over the centuries since the Prophet first received his revelations, and they sought to return to a way of life similar to that of the early Muslim community, basing life only on the Quran and the Sunna, or the deeds and words of the Prophet.
Often erroneously called Wahabis, a term some incorrectly use to describe the strict Saudi brand of Islam, Salafis argued that the Quran was the literal word of God and could not be interpreted. They stressed the importance of tawhid, or the unity and oneness of God, and condemned examples of shirk, the belief that God might have partners. Any practice or belief not supported directly by the Quran or Sunna was bid’a, or an innovation, and fighting innovators was crucial to Salafis. Although most Salafis concentrated on peaceful missionary activity, some radical Salafis engaged in takfir, or the act of calling somebody a kafir, an apostate who has renounced his religion and is therefore subject to death. As a result, radical Muslims who believed that the use of violence was justified against those who deviated from Islam were called takfiris. They believed jihad was the “absent obligation,” the sixth pillar of Islam. Although jihad meant only to strive or to struggle, such as an internal struggle to become a better Muslim, jihad meant only holy war against the enemies of Islam. Worse than Jews or Christians to Salafis, Shia were known as rafidha, or those who reject Islam, a pejorative term akin to “nigger.” Salafi ideologues dominated Jordan’s mosques, and young men filled their ranks.
Next Page: “In prison, the awkward and solemn Zarqawi began to bloom in his own jihadi way…”
Salafism found a home in Jordan beginning in the 1970s when a Syrian cleric called Muhamad Nasir al Din al Albani began teaching in Jordan at the invitation of the Muslim Brotherhood. Eventually he settled in the Jordanian city of Zarqa to avoid persecution by the secular Syrian Baathists, and began preaching about the need to purify Islam. Hundreds came to hear him speak, and he influenced the ranks and hierarchy of Jordan’s clergy. The regime was threatened by the crowds he drew, and Albani was prohibited from speaking in public. Unable to operate openly, Salafism became an informal underground movement. The late 1970s were a crucial period, as the leftist, secular and nationalist projects in the Arab world appeared to be failing. Saudi radicals rose up against their regime, temporarily taking the mosque in Mecca; the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan; and the Iranian revolution inspired political Islamists who meant to overthrow Sunni regimes. By the early 1980s Arab regimes decided to dispose of their excess radicals by dispatching them to the Afghan jihad.
Jordan was a ripe environment for political Islam. Ever since the British had created the country in 1924, the kingdom was ruled by the Hashemites, or Albu Hashem, descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, who gained their legitimacy by belonging to Ahl al Beit, or the family of the Prophet. In 1970, when Jordanian King Hussein fought an uprising of nationalist Palestinians, some of whom promulgated the slogan “The liberation of Jerusalem begins in Amman,” the Muslim Brotherhood, previously disenfranchised, supported King Hussein, and the king rewarded them by granting them control over the Ministry of Education, allowing them to inculcate generations of Jordanians. Founded by Egyptian Hassan al Banna in 1928, it sought to establish a Muslim state—though not through violence.
Radical Islam had received a needed fillip from the Afghan jihad that began in 1979, but it was after the Gulf War of 1991 that jihadism became an international ideology. The Saudi government’s dependence on the American infidels to protect its country from Saddam Hussein, and U.S. presence in the holiest Muslim land, coincided with increasing Muslim resentment of their own governments. Arabs who had fought in the Afghan jihad began returning home and were disillusioned with what they encountered and sought to bring the jihad home too. The Israeli peace process was but one more betrayal for them.
Also following the Gulf War, Kuwait expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, most of whom settled in Jordan. Returning Jordanian jihadis were repelled by the ostentation that accompanied the arrival of wealthy Palestinians in their poor country. One such jihadi was Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who would lead the Tawhid and Jihad organization of Iraq, later known as Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Other Palestinians brought with them a radical jihadist Salafi ideology. One such person was Abu Anas al Shami, who went on to become Zarqawi’s key cleric and religious advisor in Iraq. Another was Abu Muhamad al Maqdasi, the most important ideologue for modern jihad today, and Zarqawi’s former mentor.
Maqdasi’s writings influenced the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers and the 1995 bombings in Saudi Arabia that targeted Americans. His relationship with Zarqawi dates back to Afghanistan in the late 1980s and early 1990s (it is unclear exactly when), where the two met during their jihadist struggles.
Maqdasi was a self-taught Palestinian cleric living in Kuwait. Like many Palestinians who relocated to Jordan, Maqdasi had belonged to an important Kuwaiti Salafi organization called Jamiyat al Turath al Islami, or the Society of Islamic Heritage, which was characterized by a willingness to ruthlessly kill civilians. Upon arriving in Jordan in 1991, Maqdasi took control of Jordan’s Salafi movement, composed of Jordanian and Palestinian Salafis who had fought or trained in Afghanistan. Maqdasi called his organization Tawhid, or monotheism, but later changed the name to Bayat al Imam, Oath of Loyalty to the Leader.
When Zarqawi returned to Jordan from Afghanistan in 1993, he sought out former mujahedin he had met in Afghanistan, including Maqdasi. The two began planning jihadist operations and were arrested and jailed in 1994 for possession of weapons. They would spend the next five years behind bars.
In prison, the awkward and solemn Zarqawi began to bloom in his own jihadi way, while Maqdasi, despite the anger and violence of his ideas, avoided conflict. The Jordanian authorities had placed all the Islamist prisoners together and in isolation from other prisoners, and Zarqawi’s aggressive personality attracted the tough young men imprisoned with him—while Maqdasi was relegated to a theological position, issuing fatwas.
The time these Islamists spent in Sawaqa prison would prove just as important to the development of their movement as the jihadist experiences they shared in Afghanistan. The time in confinement bonded men who suffered together and gave them time to formulate their ideas. For some it was educational as well, giving them time to study jihadi texts, improve their Arabic and organize into groups.
Next Page: In Afghanistan Zarqawi found both Al Qaeda and the Taliban insufficiently extreme for him.
Shortly after his release under an amnesty in 1999, Zarqawi left for Pakistan, where he was arrested and temporarily held, before making it to Afghanistan with his key followers. (Zarqawi had been influenced by the Egyptian jihadist groups such as Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Group, which held that the leader of any jihadist group should be based outside of the country in order to avoid harassment by the security forces. Maqdasi also favored the move, but primarily because, unlike Zarqawi, he opposed conducting operations within Jordan—a disagreement that would prove momentous years later.)
In Afghanistan Zarqawi found both Al Qaeda and the Taliban insufficiently extreme for him. Zarqawi criticized Osama bin Ladin for not calling Arab governments infidels and attacking them. For Zarqawi, the near enemy was the priority, while for Bin Ladin the far enemy was the priority. Zarqawi was such a strict Salafi that he condemned the Taliban for lack of piety. He criticized them for not sufficiently imposing Sharia and for recognizing the United Nations, an infidel organization. As a result he condemned Al Qaeda for associating with the Taliban and established his own camp in the western Afghan city of Herat, near the border with Iran.
When the U.S. struck Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, Zarqawi made his way through Iran to autonomous Kurdistan in northern Iraq. This is a point especially worth noting. The Bush administration claimed Zarqawi’s presence in Iraq was proof of an Al Qaeda connection, but in fact Zarqawi linked up with the terrorist group Ansar al Islam in a region of Iraq outside of Saddam Hussein’s reach.
When he arrived in northern Iraq in 2002, Zarqawi was still virtually unknown outside his native Jordan. But the mere fact of his physical presence in Iraq may have been enough to earn him his first bout of international notoriety: In his February 2003 speech to the United Nations, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell named Zarqawi as an associate of Bin Laden’s in Iraq—a report that infamously turned out to be false, but one that nevertheless had the effect of turning Zarqawi into an overnight jihadist celebrity.
He apparently laid low during the war’s major ground offensives, but as soon as Saddam was removed from power on April 9, 2003 and Bush declared America’s “mission accomplished,” Zarqawi
had a new failed state in which to operate. He descended into Iraq proper and began to organize the disparate foreign fighters who had come to fight with Saddam’s army against the American invasion. Shocked by the disappearance of Saddam’s army and the ease of the American victory, these Arab fighters from Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia began casting about for a leader. They found one in Zarqawi, who was, by most accounts, charismatic and fearless.
Although he claimed responsibility for several significant attacks, such as the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad’s Canal Hotel and the assassination of Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq leader Muhamad Bakir al Hakim, Zarqawi and his foreign fighters were a numerically insignificant proportion of the anti American fighters. It took further public relations efforts by the United States to transform Zarqawi into who he became.
Intent on denying that there was a popular Iraqi resistance to the American project in Iraq, the U.S. military appeared to blame nearly every attack on Zarqawi and his foreign fighters. And for a while it seemed every car accident in Baghdad was Zarqawi’s fault. The truth was that much of Iraq’s Sunni population, alienated by the Americans who removed them from power and targeted them en masse during raids, supported and participated in the anti-American resistance. Even many Shias claimed resistance. Muqtada al-Sadr, the most powerful and popular single individual leader in Iraq, led several “intifadas,” or uprisings, against the Americans in the spring and summer of 2004 (and his men still rest on their laurels, claiming they too took part in the Mukawama, or resistance).
But by blaming Zarqawi for everything, the Americans turned him into a myth—the man who was everywhere and nowhere at once. Aspiring jihadis throughout the Arab world ate it up and flocked to join his ranks—or at least send money. Zarqawi was the one defying the Americans, something their own weak leaders in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and elsewhere could not do, having sold out to Western interests long ago.
In October 2004, Iraqi intelligence claimed that Zarqawi’s group consisted of 1,000 to 1,500 fighters, foreign and Iraqi. Zarqawi’s inner circle was made up of his close friends, all of whom were non-Iraqi. Their plan, as evidenced by their statements and their tactics, was to turn Iraq into hell for all its residents, to prevent an elected government from taking power and to create a civil war between Sunnis and the hated Shias. Zarqawi’s group was responsible for many of the gruesome videotaped beheadings of foreigners and Iraqis accused of collaborating with the occupation. Their bombs, planted in civilian areas or carried by suicide agents, slaughtered masses of Shias as well.
In his various written and taped communiqués Zarqawi elaborated on his ideology. He condemned the people who “held the stick in the middle.” They were not fighting for their nation. They were waiting for the fight to end so they could join the victor. Godly people, he wrote, were carrying the flag of Islam high and raising their heads in humiliating times. Their brave feet remain steadfast in the hot desert sands, and when all doors were closed to them on Earth, many doors in heaven were opened. Their belief made them strong, he argued, and they thought not of defeat despite limitless oppression. Dog-like foreigners controlled their homelands, and the solution that people were searching for was jihad in the path of God. Belief in God could restore the caliphate, he insisted; it could open to the Muslims “the gates of Rome, the White House, the Kremlin and London.” God would help them fight the hypocrites, Crusaders and Jews. Zarqawi prayed to God to give his believers success on Earth, to help the mujahedin assemble, to protect them and give them victory over the infidels.
Zarqawi denounced Muslims who criticized the beheading of the young American Nicholas Berg. They were cowards who were not fighting the infidel and did not know how glorious it felt to fight jahiliya (pre-Islamic ignorance). Zarqawi lamented that the nation of Islam was being tortured in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Chechnya and yet all it had done was weep and protest peacefully. These demonstrations had done nothing for Afghanistan, and now Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban, was hiding in the mountains. The Muslim nation did nothing to defend the chastity of the women of Sarajevo, Indonesia, Palestine and Iraq. Zarqawi swore to God that as long as he and his men had dignity and honor they would not sleep or spend time with their wives while these other Muslim women were under attack.
Next Page: Zarqawi Unites With Another Terrorist Mastermind
On Sept. 11, 2004, Zarqawi addressed the Muslim nation, again lamenting the fact that it was sleeping instead of supporting the jihad in Iraq. The once proud Muslims were now downtrodden. They fought back with neither the sword nor the pen. Jihad had been declared and the gates of heaven were open. If the men were not willing to fight then they should let their women take up arms and the men should take up cooking.
Perhaps realizing that his edicts alone weren’t sufficiently rallying supporters to his cause, Zarqawi next reached out to someone he had previously opposed and kept at a distance: Bin Laden. The two had operated independently in Afghanistan, and they certainly had not collaborated in Iraq, but Zarqawi apparently realized he could benefit from the prestige associated with the Al Qaeda brand in global jihadi circles. So in December 2004 Zarqawi swore an oath of allegiance to Bin Laden and renamed his organization Al Qaeda in Iraq. He also joined the Salafiya al Mujahedia, or Salafi Mujahedin, movement in Iraq. Bin Laden soon afterward announced that Zarqawi was the head of Al Qaeda’s operations in Iraq.
This partnership had obvious benefits for Bin Laden, and for his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, as well. Hiding somewhere in the mountains of Pakistan, the Al Qaeda leadership was not engaged in the jihad—and certainly not in its most important front, Iraq, where most of the fighting against America was taking place. When Zarqawi took on the Al Qaeda brand name, he allowed Bin Ladin and Zawahiri’s defunct organization to gain new life, and he granted the previous generation of jihadis the prestige associated with the jihad in Iraq.
After Zarqawi renamed his organization Al Qaeda in Iraq, its ideology was elaborated by a man called Abu Maysara, which was probably the assumed identity of a longtime collaborator named Maysara al Ghareeb. Abu Maysara explained that their goals included: a renewal of “true” monotheism, purifying it from elements of polytheism; jihad for Allah’s sake; re-conquering Muslim lands from infidels and apostates so that Allah’s laws could be applied; the spread of Islam in lands where it does not yet exist; freeing Muslim prisoners; helping Muslims everywhere; and reestablishing the Islamic caliphate so that Muslims would be ruled by Muslims.
On Dec. 9, 2004, a Zarqawi-run committee issued a statement about the upcoming elections in Iraq. Addressing “all the parties participating in the elections,” it threatened Shias around the world for supporting the Crusader occupation of Iraq. It called Ayatollah Ali Sistani the greatest collaborator with the Crusaders. It condemned the apostate police, the national guardsmen and the army for attacking Falluja. It warned the rejectionist Shias and their political parties, the Kurdish peshmerha, the Christians and the hypocrites such as the Islamic party that the Tawhid movement would increase attacks on them. It was signed by Abu said al Islambuli.
In January 2005, while covering the Iraqi election campaign, I found leaflets warning Iraqis not to vote. Signed by the military wing of Ansar al Sunna, the leaflets read:
“There is no doubt that Allah created his creatures so that they worship him and not polytheism, and he helps all the people on the path to success, and it is God’s work that among his servants there are Muslims and non-Muslims and there is a continuing war between these two until judgment day. And now America, the leader of the modern infidels, has started to bare hatred against Islam and the Muslims. This war will not stop, even if the occupation ends, because it is not a matter of occupation but of creating an Islamic state. As we have announced before, this is our legal verdict about participation in the elections that will take place in Iraq. We warn you against this participation because the polling stations and the people that work in them are a target for the brave soldiers of Allah, so we advise everybody to keep away from any military target, whether it is the crusader American headquarters or their patrols or the Iraqi National Guard or the apostate police forces. Because of the continuation of the battle between us and the crusaders and to avoid harming people, we announce a curfew for three days.”
The leaflet was unique for having provided a theological worldview—and a Manichaean one at that.
Though Al Qaeda under Bin Laden and Zawahiri had not made Shias their targets and did not publicly condemn them, Zarqawi held that Shias were the most evil of mankind. It is possible that he learned his hatred of Shias in Pakistan, where Shias are regularly murdered in sectarian killings. Zarqawi compared Shias to snakes, scorpions and enemy spies. His hatred could be traced to the ideology of the 13th century cleric Ibn Taimiya, the father of Wahabism and Salafism. Shias were polytheists who worshipped at graves and shrines. Shias were to be avoided at all costs. They could not be married, they could not bear witness and animals they slaughtered could not be eaten. In this way Zarqawi defended operations that caused Muslims to die. Martyrdom operations, as he called suicide bombers, were sanctified because defending Islam was even more important than defending the lives of Muslims.
Next Page: Zarqawi’s actions had for some time been proving too much even for the most radical to stomach—including his former mentor, Maqdasi.
Zarqawi reserved special hatred for the Jordanian monarchy and security forces. He sought to de-legitimize the Hashemite kingdom and its claim to power based on its descent from the Prophet Mohammed. It was true, he said, that King Abdullah was a relative of the Prophet, but he was a descendant through Abu Lahab, the Prophet’s uncle who fought against him.
Zarqawi’s increasing radicalism in relation to Jordan culminated on Nov. 9, 2005, when he dispatched four Iraqi suicide bombers to Amman—three of whom succeeded in detonating their deadly vests in as many hotels, killing 60 and injuring 100. It was Zarqawi’s third successful attack in Jordan.
Dubbed by Jordanians “our 9/11,” almost all the victims were Jordanians. Zarqawi’s attack divided Jordanians: Many clung to the belief that it was the Israeli Mossad that was responsible; others believed there were indeed Israeli spies in the hotels Zarqawi had targeted.
But in truth, Zarqawi’s actions had for some time been proving too much even for the most radical to stomach—including his former mentor, Maqdasi. The ideologue of the jihadist movement had been re-arrested after his release from prison in 1999 and had spent most of the time since then behind bars. And although imprisoned, he continued his writings. In July 2004, his website contained an article that condemned Zarqawi’s favored tactics—like roadside bombs and firing mortars—because they inadvertently killed Muslims. Jihadi hands had to be clean and free of innocent blood, Maqdasi wrote, adding that Muslims who worked for the infidels should not be killed unless they helped the infidels harm Muslims. He further warned Zarqawi not to attack churches because it would encourage infidels to fight Muslims.
In July of 2005 Maqdasi was again released from prison and was permitted by Jordanian authorities to give interviews to the press. Maqdasi said that although he still believed in the takfir (declaration that somebody is an infidel) against Shias, he disagreed with Zarqawi that all Shias were infidels, arguing instead that only ignorant Shias were infidels. Though Maqdasi condoned the killing of Muslims, he said that Zarqawi had gone too far.
Maqdasi himself did not get very far: Jordanian authorities re-arrested him in the middle of an interview he was giving to Al Jazeera.
In criticizing Zarqawi’s methods, Maqdasi had been trying to divert blame from the ideology itself, and to cast doubt upon Zarqawi’s ability to lead the jihad. He also maintained that operations in Jordan should be limited to proselytizing. “I chose to stay in the country to handle the proselytizing that we began and I hope to move it west across the river; there I have hopes and ambitions,” Maqdasi wrote in correspondence to Zarqawi posted on Maqdasi’s website.
It wasn’t only the followers of Maqdasi who opposed Zarqawi’s aims and tactics. He also had a rocky relationship with Iraq’s diverse resistance and insurgent groups. Iraqi Sunnis condemned his declaration of war on Shias, and feared the civil war he finally succeeded in provoking. His fighters often clashed with indigenous Iraqi fighters—who formed the majority of the anti-occupation resistance—because Zarqawi’s men established reigns of Taliban-like terror in villages they took over. Also, most of Iraq’s Sunnis wanted only to regain some political power in Iraq—unlike Zarqawi, who was fighting the entire world.
In the end, Iraq’s Sunnis wanted a stable Iraq, but under their control. Nor were they interested in Zarqawi’s puritan ideology. It was probably disgruntled Iraqi Sunnis who provided the tip that cost Zarqawi his life. Only this week, a couple of days before his death, Zarqawi’s fighters had clashed with fighters belonging to the 1920 Revolution Brigades, an Iraqi group affiliated with the Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq.
It was comical when the Americans released Zarqawi video outtakes that showed him for fumbling with a machine gun. Having inflated Zarqawi’s reputation for their own pro-war propaganda ends, the Americans were now trying to deflate it in order to downplay the strength of the resistance. But it was too late. Jihadis were not going to trust the Americans. Zarqawi had proved how good he was at killing Americans and Shias and evading capture. Whether he was proficient in using a particular machine gun was besides the point; he was very good with bombs, with knives, and certainly successful with his strategy.
Zarqawi’s death was the greatest advertisement for his cause. He had already succeeded in provoking the civil war, the final spark being the Feb. 22 bombing of the Shia Askari Shrine in Samarra, north of Baghdad. Zarqawi sought martyrdom and direct entry to paradise by fighting the infidels in Iraq. And in the eyes of his supporters, he succeeded—proving to aspiring jihadis around the world that Iraq is the place to go to if you want to enter paradise as a martyr slain by the infidels.
The US ambassador to Iraq hailed Zarqawi’s death as a “good omen,” which sounds rather weak, if the best the U.S. can come up with in Iraq are omens. Perhaps they will say it’s another “turning point” or a “milestone”—because we haven’t had enough of those since the occupation began. Perhaps we have “turned the corner,” in Iraq, which, after the thousand corners claimed turned by the Americans, makes for an interesting geometrical structure. Perhaps this will “break the back of the insurgency”? No, it is not even a good omen, it is an ominous omen. It was pathetic to see the American empire expressing glee at the death of one man, the leader of a gang of criminals and thugs, an image of his head at peace, eyes closed, curly hair and beard, like John the Baptist’s severed head, displayed before the world, much as Saddam and his dead sons had been paraded before the world.
More will come to replace Zarqawi and avenge his death. Iraq’s Shias will be blamed for Zarqawi’s death, and Shias in the region—perhaps even in Saudi Arabia, or in Lebanon, where sectarian tensions are rising—will find themselves targets of violence. Expect a new group, calling itself the Zarqawi Brigades (or battalions, or army), to claim responsibility for some major attacks on Shia targets.
Far from putting an end to the Iraqi insurgency, Zarqawi’s death will most likely prolong it.
Nir Rosen is a Fellow at the New America Foundation and a freelance writer. His book on post war Iraq, “In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq,” was published by Free Press in May, 2006.
His articles from Iraq and elsewhere are available on www.nirrosen.com