War on Terror: Abu Musab al Zarqawi and His Relationship with Al Qaeda

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," November 4, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: I am joined now by Loretta Napoleoni who is the author of "Insurgent Iraq, Al-Zarqawi and the New Generation" and Ms. Napoleoni has written a book about Abu Musab al Zarqawi and his relationship with Al Qaeda. — Another important issue for Americans as we continue to follow the war in Iraq.

Ms. Napoleoni, I believe you say in your book that Zarqawi and al Qaeda were created by the Iraq War, that they didn't exist together before. I thought that Ansar al Islam, well at least Zarqawi, as based, was established in Iraq well before we invaded.

LORETTA NAPOLEONI, AUTHOR, "INSURGENT IRAQ": Zarqawi was never a member of Ansar al Islam. In fact, Ansar al Islam was created in northern Iraq in 2000, middle 2000, end of 2000. So he was never really part of it, nor was he part of Al Qaeda. He was an individual which had a small group of followers and he was backed by the Taliban and he ran a small camp in Iraq near the border with Iran between Afghanistan and Iran. He had nothing to do with Al Qaeda.

GIBSON: Well, he certainly does now, right?

NAPOLEONI: Yes, of course. Today he is the representative of Al Qaeda in Iraq. He is the emir, the prince in Iraq.

GIBSON: So, well, your point is what, exactly? That we created Zarqawi by this Iraq invasion?

NAPOLEONI: What has happened is the Kurdish Secret Service, together with the Jordanian authorities, they presented Al Zarqawi as a member of Al Qaeda to the Americans. And the Americans believed — they actually looked at the information and consider Zarqawi being the link between Usama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. In reality, Al Zarqawi did not have such a role. But this particular situation, they are presenting him as the new leader, the new operational leader of the jihaddist movement allowing him to attract people not to not only people to join his insurgency but also funds, all of the sudden, money from the Gulf started arriving to Iraq to fund this group.

GIBSON: Yeah but I'm trying to understand your point exactly, is that we have created Zarqawi and that he would not have sprung up, he would not have been doing these things had there not been an Iraq War?

NAPOLEONI: Yes. What I'm saying is until the 5th of February, 2003, nobody had ever heard of Al Zarqawi. And this is not only in the western world, but also in the Muslim world. All of a sudden people were presented, especially within the Muslim world, with a new icon, with a new individual, which was projected as the leader of the insurgency, the future insurgency, but also the jihaddist movement. And because of that he attracted not only a lot of funds but also a lot of support.

GIBSON: All right. Loretta Napoleoni, author of "Insurgent Iraq, al Zarqawi and the New Generation." Ms. Napoleoni, thank you very much.

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