AC: Did we lose Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?
ANDERSON COOPER: Welcome back, we are in Baquba, Iraq. There is a -- the elections yesterday were truly historic. Millions of Iraqis turning out to vote, voter turnout among the Sunnis was far higher, of course, than it has ever been before. CNN -- man! I did it again. "Time" magazine's Baghdad Bureau Chief Michael Ware joins us from Baghdad.
Michael Ware, every time I introduce you, I say you work for CNN. But you don't, I don't know why I'm obsessed with that.
Uh, I have to ask you Michael about what CNN has learned about Abu Musab al Zarqawi, we have learned today, Nic Robertson reporting, that he was, at one point, was in Iraqi custody back in 2004. And they let him go because they didn't recognize him. What have you heard about it?
MICHAEL WARE, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": Well, I haven't heard anything specific on it yet. And I have to say, anything that is sourced out of this Iraqi government, particularly as it pertains to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, I'm particularly dubious of. However, any of this is plausible. I mean, I have no doubt whatsoever that Zarqawi himself will have passed through countless American checkpoints.
We know that there has been several near misses. In fact, some of the special task force that almost nabbed him in February, American Special Forces, very elite commandos, said to me, you've got to respect this guy. His tradecraft is number one. So anything is possible, Anderson.
COOPER: I don't understand, though, how can he have alluded capture -- if in fact he has -- how can he have alluded capture for so long. I mean, everyone around must -- wherever he is living -- must know he's there, no?
WARE: I suspect they don't. In fact, I would imagine, that Zarqawi travels with a very small coterie. It wouldn't be like a bin Laden of old, moving about with a phalanx of body guards -- not at all. That's not Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
As U.S. intelligence says, this guy is a professional. His tradecraft in the covert, spying business is well etched. He has had professional training, some U.S. intelligence officials believe, so you could be right next to this guy and you wouldn't have a clue. His appearance constantly changes. He rarely stays in the one place for very long. I think he could be sleeping in the next room and you wouldn't know it, to be honest, Anderson.
COOPER: Michael, you recently interviewed some insurgents. What did they say about Abu Musab al Zarqawi, about their relationship to these foreign fighters?
WARE: Well, what the senior Baathist commanders and Iraqi nationalist commanders, and Iraqi Islamists commanders, all did was paint a picture of a shift within the insurgency. The tectonic plates have moved yet again.
One year ago, Zarqawi ruled supreme. His influence was so great that he could dictate the momentum in many, many ways. And he would confront the home-grown Iraqi groups who could not stand up to him. Now, however, Zarqawi's group has been Iraqified. Iraqis who joined in the lower ranks have risen up the channels, to the point, according to a Baathist liaison with Zarqawi's group, that should he be killed today, he would be replaced by an Iraqi. This means that Zarqawi's al Qaeda is listening much more to the Iraqi nationalist groups. And that's why we saw so little violence on election day today in Iraq, Anderson.
COOPER: "Time" magazine's Michael Ware. Michael, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
WARE: My pleasure.