Thursday, May 04, 2006

US says hot on heels of Zarqawi

US says hot on heels of Zarqawi

The U.S. military said on Thursday it was close to capturing the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, after discovering documents and the unedited copy of a video he released last week.

Zarqawi was throwing all his resources into attacks in Baghdad and was probably somewhere close to the capital, U.S. military spokesman Major-General Rick Lynch told a news conference.

"We believe it is only a matter of time until Zarqawi is taken down. It's not if, but when," he said.

"He's willing to pull his people from outside the perimeter of Baghdad into Baghdad to go full out on operations inside of Baghdad. Which leads us to believe his personal location is probably somewhere close to those operations. Zarqawi is zooming in on Baghdad, we are zooming in on Zarqawi."

At his weekly media briefing, Lynch showed brief clips from what he said was the unedited video showing Zarqawi, wearing New Balance running shoes, struggling to handle the machine gun he was shown firing in the version posted on the Internet and aired on television.

Another clip appears to show his aides grabbing the gun's hot muzzle and fumbling with it after he had finished.

Each clip lasted only a few seconds and Lynch did not say how much more footage there was.

"So what you saw on the Internet was what he wanted the world to see 'look at me. I am a capable leader of a capable organization and we are indeed declaring war against democracy in Iraq'," Lynch said.

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