- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

11:31 a.m.

President Bush said today that killing terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi struck a severe blow to al Qaeda and opens a new opportunity for the fledging democracy in Iraq.

“Now Zarqawi has met his end, and this violent man will never murder again,” Mr. Bush said in the Rose Garden as he announced the U.S. airstrike on the militant whom Osama bin Laden had dubbed the “emir,” or prince, of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said a terrorist mastermind is gone.

“Over the past several years no single person on this planet has had the blood of more innocent men, women and children on his hands,” Mr. Rumsfeld said at a meeting of NATO ministers in Brussels. But he cautioned Zarqawi’s death “will not mean the end of all violence in that country.”

Mr. Rumsfeld said it was apt that Zarqawi, who had tried to thwart Iraqi elections and formation of a new government, died on the very day that the new government in Baghdad finalized its cabinet.

It was an encouraging sign for the administration’s war in Iraq. The U.S. has not seen the elimination of such an iconic figure since late 2003 when former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was found in an underground bunker.

“This is a significant hit,” said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, “The entire world of people who believe in freedom and peace can take solace in what happened.”

“I am more optimistic then ever that a free and stable Iraq can be achieved,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, declared, “Americans are safer today.”

Related articles:

U.S. forces kill Zarqawi in Iraq

Text of President Bush’s statement

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