LONDON – Two men, worlds apart, illustrate the divide in global passions about the death of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The brother of a Briton beheaded by the terrorist band hopes he "rots in hell." Zarqawi's brother said he was on his way to paradise.
News of the terror leader's death in an air strike in Iraq invoked relief in world capitals but sadness in other corners of the globe. His death was perhaps felt most deeply by those who knew him — and those on whom he inflicted pain.
Paul Bigley — the brother of Briton Kenneth Bigley, who was kidnapped Sept. 16, 2004, and beheaded before a camera — described Zarqawi as an "evil person."
"As far as I'm concerned, he can rot in hell because that's where he is," Bigley told The Associated Press. "He's not in paradise, that's for sure."
But Zarqawi's long struggle against U.S.-led forces in Iraq made him a superhero to many extremist Muslims. His older brother said the family had anticipated his death for some time.
"We expected that he would be martyred," Sayel al-Khalayleh told The AP in a telephone interview from Zarqa, the poor Jordanian industrial town that Zarqawi called home and from which he derived his name. "We hope that he will join other martyrs in heaven," he added.
In Zarqa, Zarqawi's three sisters, all dressed in black, arrived at the one-story family home looking grief stricken. But the husband of one of the women, who identified himself as Abu Qudama, said: "We're not sad that he's dead."
"To the contrary, we're happy," he said, "because he's a martyr and he's now in heaven."