PONDERING THE ZAWAHIRI-ZARQAWI LETTER
The letter has been the focus of much speculation in the media and the blogosphere, particularly since there are questions about discrepancies between the translation
and the Arabic version
of The American Future
"Zawahiri’s Lament . . .
. . . is the title of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial on his July 9th letter to Zarqawi.
The editorial points out that the letter makes no mention of the London bombings that took place two days before the letter was written. Had he known about it, it’s reasonable to assume that Zawahiri would have noted it. I guess he and bin Laden are not exactly tuned in to what’s happening in the world. "Colonel Austin Bay
:"Zarqawi's murder spree has revealed fissures among Al-Qaida fanatics. Last week, the United States released a letter coalition intelligence believes Al-Qaida's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, sent to Zarqawi. Zawahiri describes Iraq as "the greatest battle for Islam in our era." But Iraq has become a political and information battle that Zawahiri realizes Al-Qaida may be losing. According to The New York Times, Zawahiri told Zarqawi to attack Americans rather than Iraqi civilians and to "refrain from the kind of gruesome beheadings and other executions that have been posted on Al-Qaida websites. Those executions have been condemned in parts of the Muslim world as violating tenets of the faith." In February 2004, Zarqawi acknowledged a democratic Iraqi state would mean defeat for Al-Qaida in Iraq. To defeat democracy, he has pursued a strategy of relentless, nihilistic bloodbath. It's a brutal irony of war: In doing so, he is losing the war for the hearts and minds.The semi-ubiquitous praktike
:"So I think I'll treat this one as unverified for now"Juan Cole
:"The letter then says how much Zawahiri misses meeting with Zarqawi. Zarqawi was not part of al-Qaeda when he was in Afghanistan. He had a rivalry with it. And when he went back to Jordan he did not allow the Jordanian and German chapters of his Tawhid wa Jihad group to send money to Bin Laden. If Zawahiri was going to bring up old times, he would have had to find a way to get past this troubled history, not just pretend that the two used to pal around.My gut tells me that the letter is a forgery. Most likely it is a black psy-ops operation of the US. But it could also come from Iran, since the mistakes are those a Shiite might make when pretending to be a Sunni. Or it could come from an Iraqi Shiite group attempting to manipulate the United States. Hmmm."I contacted the Public Affairs Office of CENTCOM and asked if they cared to comment on the speculation regarding the authenticity of the Zawahiri-Zarqawi Letter. They replied with the following official statement:"The U.S. and Coalition have a variety of ways to acquire information, including detainee interrogation and raids of enemy locations as well as other means which often lead to exploitation of information and material. Due to operational security, I cannot discuss the specific way in which the letter was obtained.
It was felt that the release of this letter clearly illustrated the detailed planning and intent of insurgents in Iraq to one day control the country and extend their extremist Jihad to neighboring Muslim states, to include the destruction of Israel.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Defense and CENTCOM have a high degree of confidence in the authenticity of the letter.
SPC C. Flowers
CENTCOM Public Affairs "So CENTCOM and the IC aren't backtracking.
I'm not qualified to evaluate Cole's comments on the nuances of Arabic, though I suppose Zawahiri using a " Shiite style" greeting might symbolically reinforce the message to not provoke a civil war with the Iraqi Shiite community. That however is my really going out on a limb. As I see this letter analytically I have the following conclusions:Points in Favor of Authenticity:
Good strategic advice to Zarqawi that is also in al Qaida's interests.
Demonstrates concern about Zarqawi's rising prominence in the Salafi-Jihadi lunatic community. Attempt to reassert primacy. Accurate assessment of Zarqawi's ghoulish tactics.
Consistent with Zawahiri's previous style - such as I can discern through translated material.
Bush administration does not need any gaffes right now for domestic political reasons - especially in regard to the war. They would only push to release something that had " high confidence" and would not be likely to blow up in their faces.Points Against Authenticity:
Advice is also strongly in the interests of the Shiite community in Iraq and Iran.
Rattling a tin cup for $ 100 grand by Zawahiri - conveniently humiliating ( and amusing).
Timing. Wouldn't an anti-beheading message have been a sensible response after Nick Berg and not long after the Western media lost interest?
There you have it.