Thursday, June 15, 2006

Harkin: Terror leader's death means opportunity to announce withdrawal

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin told the Carroll (Iowa) Daily Times Herald the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi al-Qaeda leader known as the “godfather of sectarian violence” and the most-wanted man in Iraq, has created an “opportune” time to announce a U.S. troop withdrawal.An American airstrike on a single dwelling north of Baghdad Wednesday took out the Jordan-born al-Zarqawi, a ringleader in the insurgency linked to bombings and beheadings.“Good riddance,” Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, said in a conference call with the Daily Times Herald and other media. “I hope this strikes a major blow to the terrorist network in Iraq. I hope it’s a turning point.”In a statement issued this morning, U.S. Rep. Steve King, the Republican who represents Iowa’s 5th District, said the world is safer today with al-Zarqawi dead.“Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has released his last tape and tortured his last person,” King said in the statement. “The war on terror is not over, but the death of the leader of operations in the al-Qaeda terror network is a blow to terrorism all over the world. The United States has been unwavering in our message to terrorists around the world: your days are number.”In the conference call, Harkin said it was too early to tell the impact of the successful strike, but the senator said the terror leader’s demise should strengthen the resolve of new Iraqi government.“I think that it’s time with the formation, with this, I think it would be time for us to begin to announce we are withdrawing out troops later this year,” Harkin said. “I think that would send a very strong signal at this time, right now.”Otherwise, insurgents would continue to believe the United States is in Iraq for long-term control of oil, Harkin said.“This would be a good time for us to begin the redeployment of our troops,” Harkin said. “It’s better that we leave on our own timetable than to stay longer and be forced out.”

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