Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was considered a figurehead for Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq.
As leader of the al-Qaeda in Iraq group, the Jordanian-born militant released recorded speeches, and fiery letters have also been attributed to him. Below is a selection of his comments.
2 June 2006
From an audio recording released on the internet:
Wake up, pay attention and prepare to confront the poisons of the Shia snakes. Forget about those advocating the end of sectarianism and calling for national unity.
26 April 2006
From a video featuring Zarqawi with a gun:
To the American administration, and at its head the Crusader [US President George W] Bush, and those who surround him from the Jews, the crusaders, the rejectionists, the apostates and others, we say: you will not lead a life of ease in the land of Islam...
Our emir and leader, Sheikh Osama [Bin Laden], may God protect him, offered you a long-lasting truce that is good for you and those surrounding you; but your arrogance and haughtiness prevented you from accepting the offer...
Why do not you tell the truth about your soldiers and that their fighting will is rather weak, so that your people will know the truth about this war?
Why do not you tell them that your soldiers are continuously committing suicide? Why do not you tell them that your soldiers cannot sleep without taking drugs and hallucination pills and that those pills make them lose their mind to allow your evangelical-Zionist war generals to drag them into the slaughter house?
Why do not you tell them about the mass desertion and revolt is growing among the ranks of your soldiers?
This rotten play of democracy that you brought with you to the Land of the Two Rivers after you have seduced people by the claims of freedom, happiness and financial and spiritual easiness is gone with the wing and left forever, God willing...
By God, they have nothing from us but the sharp sword, and between us and them time and events whose horrors will turn young boys' hair grey...
From an audio message posted on a website often used by insurgents in Iraq, regarding the Jordan bombings in which a Muslim wedding was attacked:
We ask God to have mercy on the Muslims, whom we did not intend to target, even if they were in hotels which are centres of immorality.
From a taped message on an Islamist website, ahead of the Iraqi general election:
We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it. Candidates in elections are seeking to become demi-gods, while those who vote for them are infidels.
From a letter on an Islamist website, calling for the release of charity worker Margaret Hassan (later killed by her captors):
These people who are using this prisoner as a playing card didn't know our religion very well. In true Islam, they don't kill women and young children. We never kill people who we are not supposed to kill. We only kill those who fight us and kill our people. Many times we stop operating a successful attack because we know that Muslim people would be killed. We cancel these operations to save the blood of Muslims.
From a taped message on an Islamist website:
To my dear nation, the best nation brought to mankind, may the peace and blessings of God be upon you... God honoured us and so we harvested their heads and tore up their bodies in many places: the United Nations in Baghdad; the coalition forces in Karbala; the Italians in Nasiriya; the US forces on Khalidiya Bridge; the US intelligence in Al-Shahin Hotel and the Republican Palace in Baghdad; the CIA in the Rashid Hotel; and the Polish forces in Al-Hilla.
[The Shia] are... the eyes and ears of the Americans...
Hero mujahideen... God has honoured you and by your hands, the greatest power throughout history has been forced to submission.
Be resolute, kneel down before God, sharpen your swords and burn the land under the feet of the invaders.
Let them taste the bitter defeat and throw them into hell.
Letter said by US intelligence to be addressed by Zarqawi to his al-Qaeda superiors abroad, and found on a computer disc in Iraq:
[The Shia are] the insurmountable obstacle, the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy and the penetrating venom.
The unhurried observer and the inquiring onlooker will realize that Shia-ism is the looming danger and the true challenge. They are the enemy. Beware of them. Fight them.
[The Americans, Kurds, Iraqi security forces and the Shia] are the key to change. I mean that targeting and hitting them in [their] religious, political and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies... and bare the teeth of the hidden rancour working in their breasts.
If we succeed in dragging them [the Shia] into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis...