By now, you've heard the good news: Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed by U.S. forces. (Here is the video of the F-16 strikes that knocked him off. And here is footage from the aftermath.) Below are a few links, to provide a little context:
* Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said that "tips and intelligence... from Iraqi senior leaders from [Zarqawi's] network led forces" to him. (The printed version of Casey's statement reads a little differently.)* John Robb looks at Zarqawi's tenure as a "violence capitalist." (Here is a list of the big attacks claimed by his followers.)* The Counterterrorism Blog highlights the role of Task Force 145, the combination of SEAL and Delta Force units, in Zarqawi's take-down. (William Arkin has a bit more.)* Juan Cole looks at the split between Zarqawi and "the main arm of the guerrilla resistance."* Chris Allbritton, striking an uncharacteristically hopeful tone, says, Zarqawi's elimination "indicates that bringing the Sunnis into the government seems to [have] worked." (More here.)* CNN wonders if Zarqawi's recent video helped nail him.* Dexter Filkins says "it could possibly set off a bloody struggle within the organization to succeed [Zarqawi], [although] the insurgency and sectarian war he helped ignite in Iraq will carry on without him."* Smash asks if Abu Abdulrahman al-Iraqi is taking Zarqawi's place. (Thanks to Smash for the pic, too.)* Foreign Policy offers up its "profile of a killer."* Winds: Is Zarqawi Iraq's "Jeb Stuart"?* Barnett: "Zarqawi's elevation to 'master terrorist' was useful to our purposes."* Blogging Baghdad: "Maliki's big chance."* Stratfor: "Al-Zarqawi was attacked by two F-16s, each of which dropped a 500-pound bomb, not by a Hellfire missile launched from a Predator drone. Predators are dual intelligence gathering/assassination tools. Pairs of F-16s are more likely to be used when there is pre-existing intelligence that results in a tasking. U.S. forces selected their weapon very carefully to be low on fragmentation or fire to maximize the chances of the quick recovery of an easily identifiable corpse. Al-Zarqawi was not found, he was sold out. A political deal was made, and the Sunnis have delivered on their end."* Kaplan: "If there's any legitimacy to the new Iraqi government, now's the time it might take traction."* Ackerman: "Zarqawi's death may in fact be a bad thing."* Zarqawi's brother-in-law arrested live, on TV.