In the director’s cut, Zarqawi looks every inch the rambo figure as he busts loose with a heavy machine gun. The outtakes show he needed some help to fire the thing
Yuck. You don’t really want to use the “cutting room floor” metaphor in reference to a man who became a visceral presence in America’s collective imagination by personally beheading hostages. Nonetheless, you have to hand it to the U.S. military for coming up with a far more effective way of countering the impact of Musab al-Zarqawi on the Iraqi political landscape than flattening whole cities like Fallujah.
Following Zarqawi’s latest video release in which he nonchalantly strolls about, unmask, blasting away with a machine-gun and showing off his muscles in what commentators in the Arab world said was a carefully constructed set of images aimed at showing his virility and vitality — no doubt to counteract suggestions that his role had been downgraded. (And also, I suspect, to show that he can walk around insouciantly unmasked in the middle of Anbar province, while Bin Laden is restricted to making audio tapes.)
Now the U.S. has retaliated by releasing outtakes from the same video shoot captured in a raid on a Zarqawi safe house. Here’s an AP TV video clip of the US presentation and here’s a link to a fuller version.
Showing Zarqawi mincing around in New Balance sneakers and struggling to fire his weapon does a lot more to undermine his image than portraying him to be the mastermind behind the chaos in Iraq does — until now his own propaganda and that of his portrayal by the U.S. have actually worked to reinforce each other.