The Jordanian-born jihadist who quickly became a suspect in yesterday’s bombings in Iraq also wants to assume a leading, independent role in future terrorist operations in other countries, according to senior intelligence officials. Abu Musab Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for two dozen bombings in recent months and was on record threatening new attacks against Iraqi Shiites before yesterday’s attacks. But U.S. officials are also increasingly concerned about Zarqawi’s ambitions beyond Iraq. Although Zarqawi has worked with al Qaeda in the past, officials say it is increasingly clear he operates independently of Osama bin Laden’s organization and has developed his own network of operatives. “He is a thinker” and “a good organizer” who “sees Iraq as a springboard into broader and more jihadist actions in the region,” said one senior intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Reflecting the concern, the United States announced in February that it had doubled — from $5 million to $10 million — the reward it would pay for information leading to Zarqawi’s death or capture. Full Story
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