Video: Al-Zarqawi's family, hometown react

By Martin Fletcher Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/8/2006 7:39:24 PM ET 2006-06-08T23:39:24

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's family said they knew that sooner or later he'd be killed. Thursday night, at the family home in the town of Zarqa, the mourning began.

Police barred the press from town, fearing the anger of the Zarqawi tribe. But NBC News got through anyway, and al-Zarqawi's younger brother didn't object.

A sign there said this is the wedding of a martyr, which means al-Zarqawi is a hero who has gone to paradise.

Earlier, al-Zarqawi's wife and two sisters wouldn't talk, but his brother-in-law did.

NBC News first met him two years ago, after al-Zarqawi became a top terrorist leader. Then, he proudly showed us al-Zarqawi's own copy of the Quran, with his signature. He said al-Zarqawi was taking revenge for American terrorism. On Thursday, he called al-Zarqawi the imam, the spiritual leader, of all Muslims.

But beyond his hometown, there was a different reaction. Jordanians also remember that al-Zarqawi killed about 50 of his own countrymen — most of them in three almost-simultaneous bomb attacks on hotels in the capital last year.

One Jordanian woman told NBC News, “He deserved to die, especially after what he did in Amman.”

Back at his hometown Thursday night, it turned out the police warning of danger was correct.  Children chased us away from the mourning tent with stones and rocks, chanting, “God is great.”

Here, at least, al-Zarqawi is a hero.

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