Friday, June 09, 2006

Updated Details on the Zarqawi Strike

Some further details on the Zarqawi strike are provided by the Army Times. There were apparently multiple leads that led the Coalition close Zarqawi. Apart from the Zarqawi agent captured by Jordan, there was also a takedown in Baghdad:

The capture of Sheikh Ahmed al-Dabash in Baghdad’s Mansour district May 29, described by U.S. Central Command as “a major financier and facilitator of terrorism in Iraq,” may have been another critical breakthrough, multiple sources said. “You follow the money — and he was the money man,” said an officer familiar with special operations in Iraq.

The noose began to close when Zarqawi was localized to Hibhib. There was a small group of Americans who were apparently able to see the house in which Zarqawi was holed up.

TF 145 tracked Rahman to a safe house about five miles west of Baqubah in the tiny hamlet of Hibhib, an isolated cluster of about 300 buildings, most of them made of sub-baked mud, and surrounded by miles of farms, orchards and fields. Hibhib, which has seen a fair amount of insurgent activity, is almost 100 percent Sunni and is home to at least three prominent families who would have gladly given sanctuary to a man like Zarqawi, said Army Maj. Kreg Schnell, former intelligence officer for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, which spent a year in Baqubah starting in February 2004. Zarqawi “obviously had friends in the area who gave him meals and a place to sleep,” Schnell said.

Indeed, U.S. intelligence had confirmed that Zarqawi would meet Rahman in Hibhib. A reconnaissance-surveillance team from Delta Force’s B Squadron infiltrated the area to get “eyes on” the house, said a source in the special operations community. Sources said a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle was also overhead.

The aircraft actually used to hit Zarqawi were not specially tasked, but were taken from the available on-call force. The need to strike immediately was so urgent that the mission had to proceed with a single aircraft after the other had been delayed by refueling.

Senior U.S. military leaders in Iraq discussed whether to launch a ground assault, but decided “they could not really go in on the ground without running the risk of having him escape,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters June 8 in Brussels, Belgium. That left an airstrike as the only option.

Two F-16C Fighting Falcon jets were in the air on a routine on-call mission due to last four or five hours over central Iraq when the decision was made to launch the mission, Air Force Lt. Gen. Gary North, Central Command’s air component commander, told reporters in the Pentagon on June 8. The jets carried a mixed load of laser-guided and satellite-guided bombs and LITENING targeting pods equipped with laser designators to mark targets, as well as video cameras. Caldwell said June 9 that at the time the order was given to launch a strike on the house, one of the two F-16s was receiving fuel from an airborne tanker, so only one aircraft made the bombing run.

In the event, the attacking F-16C dropped two bombs.

Flying at “medium” altitude — at least 20,000 feet — the pilot circled the safe house, noting how it was built, setting targeting coordinates and deciding which bombs to use. The pilot set his fuses so the bombs would explode inside the house, rather than on contact with the roof, in order to collapse the structure. At 6:15 p.m., the F-16 dropped a 500-pound laser-guided GBU-12 bomb on the house, causing a massive explosion.

Using the cameras in the LITENING pod, the pilot peered through the smoke to observe the damage and decided a second bomb was needed. About 30 seconds later, the pilot released a 500-pound GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition that was guided by Global Positioning System satellite signals. That also hit the home, leaving the building a smoking pile of rubble.


Blogger TigerHawk said...

"Money men" probably roll over a lot faster than foot soldiers. It was almost a cliche of old mob movies that the good guys would go after the accountant first.

6/09/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I hope those three prominent local families known to sympathize with Zarkawi fully realize that were they up against almost anyone but the USA, they'd be put up against a wall and shot.

6/09/2006 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Follow the money men.
...and the Spiritual Advisors.
That little boy was grieving for his beloved uncle Z, Larsen!
(Probably gave him Cool DVDs for Bedtime Viewing.
Hush little baby, don't you cry, and I will saw off someone's head)

6/09/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

You account matches what I have heard and I think it more likely that the F-16 targeted the house with its own laser designator rather than having a ground team provide laser illumination of the target.
One of Fox News retired military analysts said that a "terrorist real estate agent" who handled setting up safe houses gave up the target, but I think it more likely that he simply told them of possible hiding places - one more piece in the puzzle.

I also heard this afternoon that 17 raids on suspected safe houses were launched soon after the Zarqawi strike and then another 39 raids later, yielding various terrorist weapons and suicide vests as well as 25 suspects.

A key question that must be on terrorist minds is if they found the "rolledex", so to speak, and were those 56 sites already ided or did they come from sifting through the debris. I will bet on both options.

But I see no one focusing on the real import of this strike. Like the Yammamoto assasination of 1943 (also carried out by Lockheed products) the fact that we not only had the technical capability to accomplish it, but the effective intelligence, the organization, and the surplus resources to do so is the real message. Ironically, in both cases it was the targets themselves who were best capable of realizing what they own deaths meant.

6/09/2006 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger quantum said...

rwe: I live in Southern California, so I know that "terrorist real estate agent" is a bit of a redundancy...

6/09/2006 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

quantum: I have owned two houses in Calif, one in Torrance and one in Santa Barbara County, so I know what you are talking about!

6/09/2006 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Terrorist Agent Hits a Triple:
When we moved here, we got kicked out of a rental when the house went on the market:

1. Agent Comes in the house before we were to be out while I am alone in the shower.

2. Sells a Canadian Client/Victim's beautiful furniture to us for pennies on the dollar.
(when they found out the price we paid, they gave the rest to charity)

3. "Sells" rental house to some locals that moved in their cars, families, and etc, Trashed the house and yard, never made a single payment, and lived there rent free until forced out.
One of many of my realtor experiences.
Should draft them to go terrorize the terrorists for a year.

6/09/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

What a fascinating account. It sounds like something out of Tom Clancy. It does seem a bit on the unfair side, being so decisive and precise. I am sure there is some human rights issue we are missing. Can they do that without congressional oversight?

6/09/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

What would (will) Malloch Brown Say?

6/09/2006 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

Here is a wild-ass thought. Zarkawi had his differences with the higher ups in A-Q. Zawahiri reprimanded him publicly last year about his brutal tactics. There was also noise earlier this spring that he was being demoted on the mujahadin sura counsel. Plus his last couple of PR communications were not hits.

Could it be that the higher-ups got the US to their dirty work for them. Perhaps they ordered somebody lower-down in the food chain to rat Zarkawi out. Maybe they also want the $25 million.

6/09/2006 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger zbestreview said...

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6/10/2006 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

The NGC LITENING pod was the other option. I was exuberant that the SNIPER was used but later came to suspect that the LITENING was used because the later has an operational C-Band data link that allows FACs on the ground to observe and validate ground coordinates in a classic man-in-the-loop fashion. Such things are essential in urban and cluttered battlefield environments but not nearly necessary in sparsely populated farming regions.

The air cover loads up weapons and loiter in the area of operations awaiting tasks in a tag team manner. Nothing more of a let down for an F16 jockey than to RTB with a full load of bombs. I bet that the pilot who had to refuel is spittin’ mad.

I find it particularly delicious that the operations have sewn the seed of doubt inside the Al Queda’s organization. That is priceless.

6/10/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger MD said...

I think this all a story, and that Z was taken out somewhere else. Blowing the house makes good video for home audiences, and puts the fear of Allah into Z's compatriots -- the Big Brother with a JDAM syndrome.

I also think he was taken down earlier, 2 or 3 days earlier, so that the captured intel could be examined and utlized.

6/10/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Probably tortured him at Gitmo.

6/10/2006 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

Mr. Rumsfeld has been pretty consistent acknowledging we're near helpless when it come to information operations and psyops (IO).

I wish I knew what constraints we placed on the military in terms of IO as well as denial and deception in a time of war. After three years it appears we have an equally stupid "wall" inside the military between the traditional press-relations people (who can tell no lie) and the IO folks - who could, if enabled, wield a truly mighty weapon, especially if supported by the supposed truth-tellers and our own press (witting and unwittingly).

In this case, what a wonderful opportunity for this monster to be caught and killed wearing lingerie. And dying fleeing while screaming in fear like a woman, while damning his god, all caught on tape, even video (get Hollywood in on the war?)

Well, I can dream.

What would it take to convince our MSM to go along in the interest of demoralizing the fascists and saving many lives? Or simply not tell them the truth (I do believe the Constitution enables the President to do exactly this in a time of war).

I do believe that no bad MSM deed will go unpunished (this kind of soft corruption eventually will finish the destruction of their entire enterprise). The Left and their MSM want the rich to sacrifice more than the wealthy already do in support of the war. So the MSM should gladly do their part in this fight and write the story-behind-the-story for big money after this is all behind us.

re: Iraqi forces on the scene before U.S. Could it be (at some level of their chain-of-command) because they were guarding the area, and would have sounded the alarm had a major coalition force entered the area?

6/10/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

RWE, I agree with you on the Yammamoto liquidation as being akin to the Zarqawi strike. I think Zarqawi's death will leave a huge hole in al Qaeda (or who ever was financing that operation).

On a mechanical note, I viewed to weapon systems film and it appears that the first bomb (GBU 12) was much more powerful than the second bomb. Yet, the two bombs have war heads in the 500 LB class. What the reason?

It's it that the first bomb blew more cement and rubble around thus giving the impression of a larger explosion (the second striking mostly a sandy crater).

Btw, the I agree with the "terrorist real estate agent" is a bit of a redundancy... in Southern California.

6/10/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Robert Schwartz- now you're getting the meaning, if you catch my drift!

I recorded EXACTLY such an analysis and posted it 6 days ago, AFTER posting "Waiting for the Blow to Fall" after reviewing Zarkman's lousy record in Iraq, and recalling (Steyn's first-hand observation) that Zarkawi was HATED by Muslims in his hometown of Zarqaw; and had lost face and traction because of his inability to trigger/foment civil war; had seriously lost pull with terrorist wannabees because of his uncontrollable penchant for bombing civilians; had barely escaped capture in May and released his "Z-Man, Jihadi King, fires SAW Like Burly He-Man!", only to have the Allies release the UNCUT version of the tapes 2 days later, showing him holding it wrong, unable to clear a jam, and surrounded by IDIOTS (one of whom grabs the HOT barrel)!

That humiliation may well have been the straw that changed the camel's mind, and the moment that Zarq lost the al-Q franchise in Iraq...

So could al-Qaeda have 'let slip' a few precious clues? Right on, Robert!

And my post at
bears witness to my beliefs, circa 5 days ago.

6/11/2006 03:29:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Looks like Ramadi has been encircled.

This would explain the commitment of the Armor BDE from KTO.

Now that the Iraqi government is formed, it will act.,0,6003091.story?track=mostviewed-homepage

6/11/2006 08:59:00 AM  

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