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Iraq: A Timeline Of Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi

An undated photograph of Abu Musa'b al-Zarqawi (AFP) Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musa'b al-Zarqawi was killed in Iraq on June 8. Al-Zarqawi was one of the most violent and ruthless members of the insurgency fighting the Iraqi government and the U.S.-led international coalition in Iraq. Increasingly in recent months, he had been calling for sectarian warfare in Iraq and for spreading the violence to Jordan and other parts of the Middle East.

June 7, 2006: U.S. aircraft kill Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi and at least six others, including al-Zarqawi's spiritual leader, Abu Abdul-Rahman. Al-Qaeda confirms al-Zarqawi's death.

June 2, 2006: In an audiotape, al-Zarqawi calls on Sunni Muslims in Iraq to fight against the Shi'ite majority, denouncing Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani as an "atheist."

April 25, 2006: Al-Zarqawi releases a rare videotape in which he vows to fight on against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and the Iraqi administration.

February 22, 2006: Armed gunmen affiliated with al-Zarqawi's group blow up the Golden Mosque in Samarra, a sacred site to Iraq Shi'a. The attack sets off days of intense sectarian violence across Iraq.

February 15, 2006: A court in Jordan hands down a fourth death sentence in absentia against al-Zarqawi after finding him and eight others guilty of plotting chemical attacks in the kingdom.

January 2006: Six Sunni armed groups reportedly agree to reconciliation talks with the Iraqi government, indicating a rift among al-Zarqawi's allies. Experts speculate that some Sunni insurgents are put off by al-Zarqawi's violence and his calls for attacks on Iraqi Shi'a.

December 28, 2005: Interpol issues an international wanted notice on al-Zarqawi.

December 18, 2005: A Jordanian court hands down a third death sentence in absentia to al-Zarqawi.

November 23, 2005: Al-Qaeda in Iraq denies media reports that al-Zarqawi has been killed by U.S. forces.

One of the Amman hotels that was bombed on November 9, 2005 (epa)

November 9, 2005: Three hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman, are bombed simultaneously, leading to scores of casualties. Al-Zarqawi later claims responsibility for the attacks.

October 2005: U.S. authorities release a letter allegedly from Al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri to al-Zarqawi in which al-Zawahri urges al-Zarqawi to stop killing ordinary Muslims.

August 2005: Al-Zarqawi associates announce that they will target Iraqi Sunnis who cooperate with the Iraqi government or support the country's consitution.

May 24, 2005: Al-Qaeda in Iraq issues a statement saying that al-Zarqawi has been wounded.

February 2005: Al-Zarqawi nearly captured by U.S. forces during a car chase in western Iraq. U.S. officials later claim that his laptop computer was captured and two of al-Zarqawi's aides were arrested.

January 2005: Al-Zarqawi calls on Iraqis not to participate in parliamentary elections. His efforts to disrupt the polls are largely ineffective.

July 2004: The U.S. government offers a $25 million bounty for al-Zarqawi.

April 2004: A court in Jordan sentences al-Zarqawi to death in absentia for his role in the October 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley.

February 2004: The U.S. government claims to have captured a computer disk containing a letter in which al-Zarqawi claims responsibility for dozens of attacks in Iraq. Washington claims the document outlines al-Zarqawi's plan to foment civil war in Iraq. The United States doubles its bounty on al-Zarqawi to $10 million.

August 29, 2003: A bomb in Al-Najaf kills more than 80 people, including leading Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim. Although no one claims responsibility for the attack, many suspect al-Zarqawi or his associates.

February 2003: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell names al-Zarqawi as an associate of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

April 2002: Al-Zarqawi leaves Iran and enters Iraq.

December 2001: Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, al-Zarqawi flees to Iran.

2000: Al-Zarqawi sets up an Al-Qaeda training camp near the western Afghan city of Herat.

1999: Al-Zarqawi is freed from jail under amnesty granted by Jordanian King Abdullah shortly after he took office. Al-Zarqawi travels via Pakistan to Afghanistan, where he joins up with Al-Qaeda.

1994: Al-Zarqawi's first militant group, Bayt al-Imam, is broken up by Jordanian security forces, and al-Zarqawi is sentenced to 15 years in prison.

1989-93: Al-Zarqawi spends most of his time in Afghanistan, where he undergoes militant training. Returns to Jordan in 1993.

1989: Al-Zarqawi travels to Afghanistan to join Islamic groups waging war against Soviet forces. He arrives after the Soviet withdrawal, but takes part in the ensuing factional fighting.

1987: Al-Zarqawi serves a brief prison sentence in Jordan for a violent crime.

1984-86: Al-Zarqawi serves in the Jordanian military.

October 1966: Born Ahmed Fadhil al-Khalayleh in the Jordanian town of Al-Zarqah.

(compiled by RFE/RL using RFE/RL stories and media reports)

Sectarian Iraq

Sectarian Iraq

Click to enlarge the image.

SUNNI, SHI'A: Iraq is riven along sectarian lines, faults that frequently produce violent clashes and are a constant source of tension. Sectarian concerns drive much of Iraqi politics and are the main threat to the country's fragile security environment.

THE COMPLETE PICTURE: Click on the image to view RFE/RL's complete coverage of events in Iraq and that country's ongoing transition.

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