With the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi outside Baghdad, the United States has struck its most important blow in the war on terrorism since driving Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan. Easily the deadliest terrorist at work over the last three years, Mr. Zarqawi was probably responsible for more deaths than Osama bin Laden and leaves behind a jihadist movement that has been drastically changed in no small part by his actions.
To recognize how changed that threat is, however, it is necessary to do something we are unaccustomed to: Look at the global picture instead of simply tallying how many Americans have died from terrorist attacks. Our focus on the lack of attacks on Americans has led to a precipitous decline in the nation’s concern about terrorism—according to a CBS poll last month, only 3 percent of Americans now believe that terrorists are the greatest danger facing the nation. Mr. Zarqawi’s legacy suggests we should be a lot more concerned.