Comments on the Killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was connected to  the Amman, Jordan suicide bombings of November 9, 2005, the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004, and other acts

“I agree that Zarqawi had to be brought to justice. I do not celebrate his death or the death of any human being. It would have been preferable had the U. S. been able to bring this man to trial before an international court to make his crimes known before the world. His targets were not representatives of U. S. government policy, but innocent civilians, just like the innocent civilians who died on September 11th.”

Adele Welty
Mother of Firefighter Timothy Welty
Killed at the World Trade Center


“When we began this war on Iraq, we opened up a greater hole on earth for hateful acts of all kinds to flourish. I heard today about al-Zarqawi–his death and the deaths of five others. One of those five was a child. The ease with which we erase that child’s death and claim victory over terrorism is devastating to our collective souls. Our whisper of a plea to stop cannot counter the bravado of the administration which now will claim that the U.S. is victorious and justified. Each day is sadder. ”

Donna Marsh O’Connor
Mother of Vanessa Langer
Killed at the World Trade Center


“I heard the news of the killing of Abu Musab al Zarqawi this morning with mixed emotion. My first thought was how profoundly sad it is that a human being could be so cruelly responsible for such great harm as he has been. However, his death does not make me feel victorious or safer or convinced that terrorism has been even remotely brought to its knees. Quite the contrary. Why? Because it is an absolute truth that violence begets violence. Vengeance and retaliation only perpetuate hatred and violence. It will only stop when someone stops it. When we refuse to participate. While a person who is so damaged as to believe that violence is justifiable must be stopped, it is necessary for us to remember that this too is a human being, a part of the whole, connected to me and to all others. And so I mourn for a life spent in the perpetuation of suffering as well as for all those who suffered as a result. We have a chance to reverse the trend of thousands of years of human war and retribution. We do not have to have a society that promotes and justifies violence. It is not true that those who have been harmed deserve vengeance, indeed must have it, in order to heal.

I understand Michael Berg when he says that the death of Abu Masab al-Zarqawi does not help him. It does not bring back his son, Nicholas. Mr. Berg’s words gave me hope, because despite his wounds, he has kept his humanity and remembers that Abu Masab al- Zarqawi, however, damaged, was a human being too. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq has caused untold pain and suffering to thousands of our fellow human beings, and is our responsibility.”

Andrea LeBlanc
Wife of Robert LeBlanc
Killed on Flight 175


“Zarqawi’s death is not our victory. Our victory is a world in which people like him do not need to resort to violence.”

Patricio Grehan
Brother of Pedro Grehan
Killed at the World Trade Center


“The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi brings no joy. I wish he could have been brought to justice without violence, for violence is the primary tool of those whose beliefs become stronger than their regard for human life. To rejoice in the results of violence is to deny the importance of learning how to live without violence. The end of al-Zarqawi’s leadership may well slow the horrors of daily life in Iraq, but it is not what will win the war on terror. That will be accomplished by peaceful acts that teach everyone that we can truly live together in one world of respect for each other.”

Bruce Wallace
Uncle of Mitch Wallace
Killed at the World Trade Center


“Al-Zarqawi was truly a terrorist who killed innocent civilians on a daily basis. I wish I knew more about what really drove him to do the things he did. I, too, would have liked to see him brought to justice. I do not know that killing him will make much difference in this war. I do not celebrate his death.

We’ll have to see what happens next.”

Doreen Leone
Sister in Law of James (Jimmy) Barbella
Killed at the World Trade Center


“As the brother of Craig Amundson, who was killed on 9/11, I might be expected to rejoice over the death of the al-Qaida leader in Iraq. Instead, I am frustrated. Al-Zarqawi’s death is not good enough.

The disruption of the network might prevent some terrorist operations from taking place. That is positive, but without changing the conditions that created al-Zarqawi’s role in the first place, somebody else will just take his position. Military officials say that a man known as Abu al-Masri may already may be filling the vacancy.

There is not only a long line of people waiting to join al-Qaida’s ranks, but that line gets longer each day that our government continues its counterproductive program of merely killing terrorists and any innocents who get in the way. We can look ahead to a future of endless violence if we keep deluding ourselves with a naïve trust that war will somehow solve the complex problems of anti-Americanism, religious extremism, and the belief in terrorism itself (or as a believer would call it, “freedom fighting”).

The father of Nicolas Berg, believed to have been killed by al-Zarqawi, told the Associated Press, “[al-Zarqawi’s] death will incite a new wave of revenge. George Bush and al-Zarqawi are two men who believe in revenge.” Like Nick Berg’s father, I am supposed to be glad about al-Zarqawi’s death, perhaps even moving toward “closure.” But we as a nation are moving further away from any hope for a peaceful world. The cycle of violence continues…”

Ryan Amundson
Brother of Craig Amundson
Killed at the Pentagon


“It is a sad day and a poor reflection on the evolution of the human soul when we rejoice at the murder of another human being. A part of this sickness is the justification of the killing of innocent human beings, like our loved ones, to justify the hate, the violence, the fear, the arrogance and the mentality that “might makes right” as we plunder onward in justification of an unnecessary war. The killing of Abu Masab al-Zarqawi is a direct reflection of our inability to resolve conflict without reverting to violence. It speaks of our primitive thinking and a mindset that has resulted from fear.

As someone who has studied human behavior, pondered on the philosophical, worked in prisons and with society’s outcasts and has lost a daughter to violence, I can see clearly that we as human beings have a long way to go and how inadequate we are as we wrestle with our own freedom and the responsibility that comes with that. The battle that rages on around us is a manifestation of the battle that rages on within us.

So, what drives a person like al-Zarqawi to commit such violent crimes against humanity? And, what separates us from him when we revert to violence in response? What gives us Americans the sanctimonious high ground that allows us to murder another human being and call it justice? Where is the wisdom in this perverse kind of thinking? And, where is the understanding and compassion for those who are suffering, those who are dying daily because of our actions?

One of the truths that has come to me out of my own pain and suffering of the murder of my daughter on September 11th, is this: if we continue to perpetuate violence in response to violence, we lower ourselves to the level of the perpetrators and the lines of distinction become dim. We must strive to understand the root causes of violence from a deeper level, seek justice where injustice reigns, embrace other cultures everywhere as part of our human family and learn to live together. We must seek and find a better way to live in harmony with all of life before we destroy each other.”

John Titus
Father of Alicia Titus
Killed on United Airlines Flight 175


“On January 27, 2002, Wafa Idris became the first female suicide bomber in Palestine. Wafa was a paramedic, a mother, she loved the children of her neighborhood, and she raised doves. Wafa will not be known for the healing she did in life, but for her final violent actions in death. At the other end of the spectrum are people like al-Zarqawi a known thug whose brutal behavior gave rise to his infamy. I do not pretend to understand what drives people from so many different lives to such desperate acts of violence. The prophet Jeremiah records Rachel’s cry at the death of her children during the Babylonian exile: ‘A voice was heard in Rama, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, she refused to be comforted for her children because they are not.’ Are the thugs and suicide bombers of the world simply immune to the cries of parents, children, partners and friends that will rise in the aftermath of their terror? Or is the precious gift of life inconsequential to them?

While I cannot understand their actions I do know this…that even the death of one such person brings no comfort or release to me. Al-Zarqawi was evil, and should be brought to justice. But I find no reason to celebrate his death. Violence is violence is violence…more violence leads to more violence. For me it is a simple and complex as that.”

Myrna Bethke
Sister of William Bethke
Killed at the World Trade Center


Peaceful Tomorrows is an organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn their grief into action for peace. By developing and advocating nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice, they hope to break the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism. Acknowledging their common experience with all people affected by violence throughout the world, they work to create a safer and more peaceful world for everyone. Peaceful Tomorrows was nominated for the 2003 and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

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