Western and Israeli diplomats to whom I spoke share this view—and this past April, The Washington Post
reported on Pentagon documents that detailed a U.S. military propaganda
campaign to inflate al-Zarqawi’s importance. Then, the following month,
the military appeared to attempt to reverse field and portray
al-Zarqawi as an incompetent who could not even handle a gun. But by
then his image in the Muslim world was set.
“Not at all,” he replied. “Zarqawi had the ambition to become what
he has, but whatever happens, even if he becomes the most popular
figure in Iraq, he can never go against the symbolism that bin Laden
represents. If Zarqawi is captured or killed tomorrow, the Iraqi
insurgency will go on. There is no such thing as ‘Zarqawism.’ What
Zarqawi is will die with him.