Downsizing at Al Qaeda in Iraq, Inc.

Airstrike Kills al-Zarqawi Aide in Fallujah

Just days after another staffer promoted to fill a dead man’s position was captured, another top figure in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s organization was killed by a US airstrike.

The hotspot of Fallujah may be reaching boiling point.

In London, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the interim government is working to achieve a political solution to the military standoff around Fallujah.

“We are trying to exhaust all political channels and avenues before any final decision is made,” Zebari told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. “Fallujah is one hot spot that we need really to resolve before getting to elections” scheduled for January.

A masked gunman, meanwhile, warned in a videotape that insurgents will attack all Iraqi and multinational military and civilian targets with “weapons and military tactics they have not experienced” if U.S. troops try to storm the city.

In the videotape obtained by Associated Press Television News, the gunman, dressed in an old-style Iraqi army uniform, read the statement on behalf of the “factions of the Islamic Resistance Movement in Iraq.”

The speaker, who appeared with seven other masked, armed men, accused the Iraqi government of “aborting a peaceful solution with the people of Fallujah.”

He warned all Iraqi military personnel and government employees to quit their jobs, otherwise they “will be permissible targets for our fighters.”

Despite the Iraqi foreign minister’s words, I don’t think Iraqi elections will be delayed if Fallujah isn’t online by January.

And, despite the fact that most folks don’t recognize al-Zarqawi’s name like they recognize Osama bin Laden’s name, al-Zarqawi is probably a more important figure to capture, kill, or at least de-fang right now.