(The following is a true account as told by an operator from the 75th Ranger Regiment.)

“Your forces will return greater in number than they were before. We also remind you of the haunting words our Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi told you. ‘The spark has been lit here in Iraq and its heat will continue to intensify by Allah’s permission until it burns the crusader army.’” – “Jihad John” of ISIS, standing over the decapitated body of former Army Ranger Peter Kassig on November 15th, 2014.

Once upon a time, the U.S. military’s number one terrorist target was not Usama bin Laden. He had faded from memory and faded even further in his operational importance within Al-Qaeda’s ranks. UBL was just a symbol, an icon of the jihadi movement.

In 2005 and until his death in June of 2006, the number one target for the U.S. military and special operations community was Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (AMZ), the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and a man responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of U.S. and coalition soldiers. He personally murdered, even beheaded, numerous prisoners, and his al-Qaeda foot soldiers targeted thousands of innocent Shia Muslims throughout Iraq to the point where bin Laden had to disavow Zarqawi for his countless atrocities committed against the civilian population.