- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2006

3:06 p.m.

BAGHDAD — Abu Musab Zarqawi lived for 52 minutes after a U.S. warplane bombed his hideout northeast of Baghdad, and he died of extensive internal injuries consistent with those caused by a bomb blast, the U.S. military said today.

Zarqawi’s group, al Qaeda in Iraq, announced in a Web statement today that a militant named Abu Hamza al-Muhajer was appointed its new leader.

Col. Steve Jones, command surgeon for Multinational Forces, said an autopsy concluded that Zarqawi died from serious injuries to his lungs in Wednesday’s air strike. An FBI test positively identified Zarqawi’s remains.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Baghdad, said U.S. forces arrived about 28 minutes after a fighter jet bombed Zarqawi’s hideout outside Baquba. Medics secured Zarqawi’s airway, but his breathing was shallow and labored, and he expelled blood from his mouth.

“It was very evident he had extremely massive internal injuries,” Gen. Caldwell said. Zarqawi died 24 minutes after coalition forces arrived, he said.

Col. Jones said the autopsy conducted Saturday showed that Zarqawi died from injuries to his lungs.

“Blast waves from the two bombs caused tearing, bruising of the lungs and bleeding,” he said. “There was no evidence of firearm injuries.”

The al Qaeda in Iraq leader also suffered head and facial wounds, bleeding in his ears and a fracture of his lower right leg.

The al Qaeda in Iraq statement, signed by the group on an Islamic militant Web forum where it often posts messages, said al-Muhajer is “a beloved brother with jihadi (holy war) experience and a strong footing in knowledge.”

The name was not immediately known. The name al-Muhajer, Arabic for “immigrant,” suggests he is not Iraqi.

The group had warned Sunday that it is still powerful and will carry out “major attacks,” leading Iraqi and American officials to announce plans for a new security crackdown in Baghdad.

It said the group’s leadership “renews its allegiance” to Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden “will see things that will bring joy to his heart,” it said, vowing “to prepare major attacks that will shake the enemy like an earthquake and rattle them out of sleep.”

Defense Minister Abdul-Qader Mohammed Jassim al-Mifarji said a security plan would be put in place around Baghdad to deal with a possible surge in terror attacks.

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