Hardly anyone was more surprised by Iraq’s insurgency than Osama bin Laden. The terrorist chief had never foreseen its sudden, ferocious spread, and he was likewise unprepared for the abrupt rise of its most homicidal commander, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. Bin Laden and his aides knew the Jordanian-born Palestinian from Zarqawi’s Afghan days, but mostly as a short-tempered bully and a troublemaker. So in the late summer of 2003, unwilling to sit on the sidelines, bin Laden sent two of his most trusted men to assess the Iraqi resistance and carve out a leading role for Al Qaeda. “The resistance happened faster than we expected, and differently, so we were not prepared to assist and direct it,” one of the two envoys later told a senior Tali-ban official. “The sheik sent me to see how we could help.”Full Story
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