The Zarqawi Document

Remember the document purportedly written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and discovered in the aftermath of the terrorist’s death in Iraq last week?

A captured al-Qaeda in Iraq document says the terrorist group considered drawing the United States into a war with Iran in order to undermine the success U.S. and Iraqi forces have had in weakening the organization.

Iraqi national security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie said the document, released Thursday, proves al-Qaeda in Iraq is in “pretty bad shape.”

“We believe that this is the beginning of the end of al-Qaeda in Iraq,” al-Rubaie said.

The author of the document complained that the terrorist group was weak and suggested that opening another front in the war would divert U.S. efforts in Iraq.

For a complete English translation of the text see here.

Questions have begun to arise about the actual source of the document and there seems to be quite a range of opinion on the subject:

  • Juan Cole apparently thinks the document is genuine, is the work of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and constitutes proof positive of what dopes the Bush Administration are.

    Remember all those times Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld came out and said they suspected that Shiite Iran was somehow aiding the Sunni Arab insurgency? You remember how baffled I was at this bizarre allegation? You wonder whether they were being fed disinformation by a Zarqawi agent, and falling for it.

    After they fell for the biggest whoppers of the 21st century, as retailed by Ahmad Chalabi, have Bush administration officials been gullibly swallowing an al-Qaeda black psy-ops operation intended to mire US troops in the Dasht-i Kavir? For people who think of themselves as tough as nails hardheaded realists, the Bushies seem awfully easy to fool.

  • Sean-Paul Kelley thinks it’s the work of the Pentagon:

    The article is about an alleged blueprint found among Zarqawi’s documents (but maybe they were found in an earlier raid, as well, no one is really saying, wink-wink) “for trying to start a war between the United States and Iran” as AP writes. I read the whole article. It’s just weird, weird, weird. My first thought is that this is some of that black-ops Pentagon propaganda stuff we taxpayers have been paying for that unfortunately made it back to the U.S. traditional media. It just reeks of it, if you ask me.

  • Marc Lynch of Abu Aardvark suggests that it’s the work of the Iraqi government:

    All of which reinforces my suspicion that the document (released and publicized by Shia national security advisor Mouwafak al-Rubaie) was whipped up by the Iraqi Shia-led government for PR purposes.

  • Michael Ledeeen proposes the Iranians as the source of the document:

    I think the Iranians put out this sort of nonsense so that we’ll have trouble figuring out what’s real. And by the way, it wasn’t found in Zarqawi’s house, contrary to the triumphant announcement from the office of the Iraqi prime minister. So it’s certainly not a Last Testament. It’s just nonsense.

I suppose one approach to discerning the actual source of the document would be by using the ancient question Cui bono? Who benefits?

Meanwhile, Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis has brought up another interesting question: who is the intended recipient of the communication? Who is the audience?

As for the Zarqawi strategy document, I’ve read it and it isn’t clear to me as to who the intended recipient is, whether this is a report to bin Laden or another senior al-Qaeda leader, whether this is intended as discussion fodder for the al-Qaeda meeting, and other possibility. Some people are saying that this is a forgery or disinformation, which is usually raised in the case of such documents. I’m no Arabic linguist by any means, so I’ll sit back and wait to see what the experts say on this one before adding any opinion on that note. In the case of the last letter from al-Zawahiri to Zarqawi, I based my conclusions of its authenticity largely on the opinion of Scheuer, who has been privy to more al-Qaeda internal communications than anyone else I am aware of.

Your own conjectures on the source, purpose, and veracity of the document are welcome and solicited in the comments.

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