Black Flags: The Rise of Isis

by Joby Warrick,
The San Francisco Chronicle, September 24, 2015

In January 2004, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of jihadist insurgents in Iraq, wrote a letter to Osama bin Laden. Dismissing Americans as “the most cowardly of creatures,” who would leave the country soon enough, Zarqawi turned to the apparently “insurmountable obstacle,” the Shiite majority in Iraq, “the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom.” With al Qaeda’s official endorsement and financial support, Zarqawi promised a campaign that would destabilize Iraq, awaken Sunnis and annihilate Shiite apostates. To those who claimed that the Islamic nation was not ready for a bloody battle, Zarqawi had a ready reply: “This is exactly what we want.”

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