As the chair of the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Rep. Hal Rogers has his eye on terrorists — and his mind on preventing them from committing further acts of aggression.

That’s why Rogers called news of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda militant leader responsible for countless acts of violence in Iraq, a “great day for freedom around the globe.”

Added Rogers in a press release, “Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has systematically conducted a campaign of hate and violence against innocent civilians and American soldiers. His days as a terror mastermind are over and he is now facing his maker.”

Considered the “most wanted man in Iraq,” the price on al-Zarqawi’s head was the same for his boss, the more widely-recognized terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Al-Zarqawi utilized hate tactics to propagate violence in an already volatile area, targeting Shi’ite Muslims, and spearheaded bloody insurgency attacks which have resulted in the death of numerous U.S. soldiers.

Many of the U.S. troops which stand to be safer with al-Zarqawi out of picture are from here in Pulaski County. Sandie Frantz of the Yellow Ribbon Project, a local organization which serves as a support system for military families, says she has between 30 to 60 names of local soldiers serving in what was al-Zarqawi’s area of influence.

Frantz noted that there are likely many more local troops, however, that she doesn’t have names for, estimating as many as 100 Pulaski Countians serving in Iraq.

“This successful strike is a testament to the men and women of our armed forces who are tenaciously pursuing terrorists wherever they hide,” said Rogers of the U.S. air strike which resulted in al-Zarqawi’s death.

Some serving in the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat team have recently reported sightings of al-Zarqawi traveling through the rural and desert areas they patrol. Troops who were awake when news of al-Zarqawi’s arrived observed a moment of silence in reflection of the victory.

“It’s about time,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Moss of St. Louis. “He’s eluded us long enough.”

Congressman Rogers reminded those celebrating the end of al-Zarqawi’s threat that though the instigator of many troubles in the Middle East is gone, plenty of danger still remains.

“While the death of al-Zarqawi is a significant accomplishment, terrorist organizations remain committed to destroying the U.S. and her allies,” said Rogers. “I appreciate President Bush's unwavering commitment to fighting terrorism at home and abroad. Many threats remain to the American people and I will continue working with the President to strengthen our nation's security.”

•••

The Associated Press

contributed to this article.

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