Quoting a bunch of hacks proves what? al-Zarqawi’s presence in northern Iraq means nothing, other than that the US was OK with him being there, since the US had much more influence in Kurdish territory than Hussein did at that time. The US supposedly decided it would be more damaging to target him than to leave him alone. That doesn't support him being seen as a pivotal player. He certainly became one, alligning with al-Quaeda after the US attacked Afghanistan and preparing to take on the expected US invasion of Iraq. Many believe his image was boosted by US propaganda, which sought to portray him as having great strength, inflence and general evilness, when he was actually just one of a number of self-indulgent, interchangeable murderers.
But I'm lost; what does this have to do with the topic? Last I heard, neither al-Zarqawi or Saddam Hussein or anyone else from the Middle East has ever been accused of forcing even a single American to a buy big car to drive to and from a big house full of big appliances too far from everything. Much of the pain at the pump is self-inflicted.