US Releases Zarqawi Bloopers
You know they're getting desperate when they start releasing bloopers of their "war on terror."
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is shown wearing American tennis shoes and unable to operate his automatic rifle in video released Thursday by the U.S. military as part of a propaganda war aimed at undercutting the image of the terror leader.Coming soon, Zarqawi the musical!
The U.S. command showed the footage to reporters at a time when it is stepping up operations against al-Qaida in Iraq and making overtures to other Sunni groups. The Americans hope to isolate religious extremists from insurgents they believe are more likely to cut a deal to end the war.
The clips were part of a longer video that U.S. troops seized in a raid last month. [SUURE it is!] Al-Qaida in Iraq militants posted an edited version of the same video on the Internet April 25 - but without the embarrassing segments.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, spokesman for the U.S. command, mocked al-Zarqawi as the previously unseen footage showed a smiling al-Qaida leader first firing single shots from a U.S.-made M-249 light machine gun. A frown creeps across al-Zarqawi's face as the weapon jams. He looks at it, confused, then summons another fighter.
"It's supposed to be automatic fire. He's shooting single shots," Lynch said. "Something is wrong with his machine gun. He looks down, can't figure out, calls his friend to come unblock the stoppage and get the weapon firing again."
By contrast, the edited version which the militants posted on the Web showed what happened only after the fighter fixed the weapon - a fierce-looking al-Zarqawi confidently blasting away with bursts of automatic gunfire.
His fellow fighters and associates appear similarly inept in the newly released footage. One reaches out to grab a just-fired weapon by the barrel, apparently unaware that it would burn his hand. The camera quickly pans to the ground and then away.
"His close associates around him ... do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves," Lynch said. "Makes you wonder" about their military skills.
Another clip showed the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi - who has derided everything Western - dressed in a black uniform but wearing New Balance tennis shoes as he walked to a white pickup.
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"Zarqawi is zooming in on Baghdad, and we are zooming in on Zarqawi," Lynch said.
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It was unclear whether the newly released outtakes would reach a broad Arab audience. Iraqi state television aired some of the newly released portions but not until at 1 a.m. Friday.
The previously posted al-Qaida footage, in which al-Zarqawi pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and mocked the U.S., was widely transmitted by Arab satellite stations.
American military officials said the new clips were released to Arab media but too late for many evening newscasts. By late Thursday evening, the stations had yet to air the material.