Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 2 Issue: 1

Exchanges on jihadiist forums indicate anxiety over reports circulating of Al-Zarqawi’s capture at Ba’aquba. The report first emerged on January 4 carried by the United Arab Emirates newspaper Al-Bayan. There have been no official declarations on his arrest, but media outlets throughout the Middle East are repeating the report. Given that there is a history of accounts of al-Zarqawi’s death or capture most observers are maintaining a healthy skepticism. Just last year news on this was circulated in April, June, July and October, usually followed by dramatic indications of the premature nature of the reports in the form of bombings and kidnappings. But what has added some flesh to the fears of participants on the web forums is the association of the news with first reporting by the Iraqi Kurdistan radio. These were the first to give the accurate report on the capture by U.S. troops of Saddam Hussein. What is verifiable is the arrest by U.S. forces between December 8 and 12 in Ramadi of two close aides to Al-Zarqawi, Saleh Arugayan Kahlil, also called Abu Ubaydah, and Bassim Mohammad Hazem, also known as Abu Khattab. The pair were leaders of a cell called the ‘Harun terrorist network’ and the arrests were linked to tips-offs from Iraqi civilians. This in itself is highly significant given the levels of intimidation that have, until now, protected the group. If more indications of this nature emerge, the credibility of the above reports will be enhanced.