Early reports following the death of al-Zarqawi were that a “treasure trove” of documents had been discovered in his not-so-safe house. This was confirmed yesterday in a press conference by Iraq’s National Security Adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie:
Al-Rubaie said a laptop, flashdrive and other documents were found in the debris after the airstrike that killed the al-Qaida in Iraq leader last week outside Baqouba, and more information has been uncovered in raids of other insurgent hideouts since then. He called it a “huge treasure … a huge amount of information.”
When asked how he could be sure the information was authentic, al-Rubaie said “there is nothing more authentic than finding a thumbdrive in his pocket.”
Rubaie gave a surprisingly upbeat assessment of the implications for Iraq’s battle against the terrorists:
“We believe that this is the beginning of the end of al-Qaida in Iraq,” al-Rubaie said, adding that the documents showed al-Qaida is in “pretty bad shape,” politically and in terms of training, weapons and media.
“Now we have the upper hand,” he said at a news conference in Baghdad. “We feel that we know their locations, the names of their leaders, their whereabouts, their movements, through the documents we found during the last few days.”
Rubaie said that he believes many coalition forces will be able to leave Iraq by the end of the year.
UPDATE: General William Caldwell offered more information about the post-Zarqawi raids earlier today:
American and Iraqi forces have carried out 452 raids since last week’s killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and 104 insurgents were killed during those actions, the U.S. military said Thursday.
In addition to the dead terrorists, 759 were captured, which no doubt will lead to more raids. Significantly, 143 of the raids were carried out solely by Iraqi forces.
Austin Bay has more. Perhaps we really have reached a decisive turning point in Iraq.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt scolds me a bit for asking whether we are seeing “the beginning of the end.” Fair enough. But with all the doom and gloom we’ve been bombarded with for the last year, it’s hard to resist a moment of optimism. It’s true, of course, that we can’t at this point foresee an end to the GWOT; and, given that I have written more than once that it will be twenty years before we know the outcome of our effort in Iraq, talking about an “end” there is no doubt premature as well. But, while it’s too early to tell, I do think the events of the last week may prove, with hindsight, to have been a turning point.