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Blair Hails Death of Terrorist Leader Zarqawi

  • Michael Drudge

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq is a strike against the al-Qaida terrorist network. But he says the killing that Zarqawi fomented will continue.

Prime Minister Blair has issued a statement on the Zarqawi killing at the beginning of his monthly news conference in London.

"The death of al-Zarqawi is a strike against al-Qaida in Iraq, and, therefore, a strike against al-Qaida everywhere. But we should have no illusions," he said. "We know that they will continue to kill. We know there are many, many obstacles to overcome. But they also know that our determination to defeat them is total."

Mr. Blair also has praised the new Iraqi government for filling the posts of the defense and interior ministries, and he says, if the government succeeds, it will have wide implications.

"I do not minimize the enormous challenges that remain ahead, in Iraq and elsewhere," he said. "But the election of the new government and its full formation today shows a new spirit to succeed, and our task, obviously, is to turn that spirit, that willingness and desire to succeed into effective action. If we are able to so, then we will have accomplished something that goes far beyond the borders of Iraq."

British defense analysts are stressing that the death of Zarqawi will probably have minimal impact on the level of violence in Iraq, at least in the short term.

"It's good news when a very bad guy gets killed, but it's not a strict hierarchy, where you can cut off the head and the rest will be lost. He was an important figure, but there is no reason to suppose he will not be replaced very quickly," said Mark Baillie, an analyst at the Center for Defense and International Security Studies.

There also is relief at the news from Iraq among the relatives of Kenneth Bigley, a British engineer, who was kidnapped and beheaded by Zarqawi's group in 2004. Bigley's brother Paul told British television he is glad the world is rid of what he called "a very evil person."

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