Al-Qaeda leaders sold out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to the United States in exchange for a promise to let up in the search for Osama bin Laden, the slain leader's wife claimed in an interview with an Italian newspaper.
The woman, identified by La Repubblica as al-Zarqawi's first wife, said al-Qaeda's top leadership reached a deal with U.S. intelligence because al-Zarqawi had become too powerful. She added Sunni tribes and Jordanian secret services mediated the deal.
"My husband has been sold to the Americans," the woman - "Um Mohammed" - said in an interview published Sunday. "He had become too powerful, too troublesome."
"I think a secret pact was struck whose immediate goal was his death," she told the newspaper. "In return, the American troops promised to ease, at least momentarily, their hunt for bin Laden."
"Al-Qaeda is currently especially worried with protecting its charismatic leader," she added.