Rumors that al Qaeda in Iraq Commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been wounded in combat during the battles in Qaim have taken on a new life. Early last week an Iraqi officer reported Zarqawi was seriously wounded, if not dead already. The Times Online has details of the purported visit by Zarqawi to a hospital in Ramadi (note that Iraqi blogger Hammorabi reported on this hospital visit on Thursday):
According to the doctor, Zarqawi was escorted into Ramadi general hospital by smartly dressed men. “He was bleeding heavily and his escorts were well dressed with a look about them that was different from the casualties and family members we had been receiving from the al-Qaim offensive,” he was quoted as saying.
“I treated his injury and asked that he remain in hospital for further observations and told him that we would have to register him and take down his name and details. But he became very nervous and agitated. He refused and told me he would not be staying.
“The three men with him asked me politely that he be allowed to leave hospital immediately and that I supply them with a prescription and a list of medication that he may need.”
The doctor, who recognised Zarqawi from his photograph on television, followed them to their vehicle to try to convince them that the patient should remain in hospital. At that point, he said, he saw machineguns. They threatened to kill him if he told anyone what he had seen.
They then produced a wad of US dollars to secure his silence. The doctor said that he had refused to take the cash.
Hammorabi also noted that “a finger print for his DNA test has been requested from Jordan”. My guess is US intelligence already has his (or his family member’s) DNA on file for an immediate comparison. If the Iraqi doctor was smart enough, he will have saved the dressings of Zarqawi’s wounds for comparison, and we will know for sure if he was wounded during Matador. To confirm his death, it is best to wait for the body for evidence.