- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Al Qaeda is making little progress in its efforts to recruit Iraqis to wage a jihad against America, according to a letter seized from a courier for the terrorist organization in Iraq. U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the 17-page letter was written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist linked to al Qaeda and believed to be operating in Iraq.

Hidden in a CD, the letter was to be smuggled into Afghanistan and delivered to Osama bin Laden and members of his inner circle. It suggests that the group is not having much luck in fomenting violence against coalition forces, and that al Qaeda is not having success in recruiting new Iraqi supporters or driving the United States out of the country.

In his letter, found Jan. 23 at an al Qaeda safehouse in Baghdad, Zarqawi wrote that, despite the casualties suffered in Iraq, “America, however, has no intention of leaving, no matter how many wounded or how bloody it becomes.”

The New York Times, which broke the story about the Zarqawi letter, noted that the writer laments that Iraqis are refusing to permit insurgent forces to use their homes as bases for operations or safehouses. The letter also acknowledges that American efforts to set up Iraqi security services have made it difficult for the insurgents to recruit allies among the Iraqi people. And Zarqawi appeared to acknowledge that the situation for the terrorist network in Iraq would deteriorate once Americans pull out of the country and are replaced by Iraqis “who are intimately linked to the people of this region.”

Zarqawi betrays a deep sense of frustration over the insurgents’ bleak prospects of success, and suggests that it might be better to find a new home for recruiting jihadists. “We can pick up and leave and look for another land, just like what has happened in so many lands of jihad. Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases,” he says. “By God, this is suffocation!”

There is still time for the Iraqi radicals to salvage the situation, Zarqawi writes, by staging attacks against the country’s Shi’ite majority in the hope of fomenting Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence. But once the United States and the Coalition Provisional Authority transfer power to Iraqis in June, he complains, the jihadists will no longer have a pretext for killing Iraqis. The solution to the problem, Zarqawi writes, is to step up the violence right now. This strongly suggests that this week’s car bomb attack near Baghdad, in which more than 50 people died, may be just the beginning of a new wave of terror by the jihadists against the Iraqi people — a desperation campaign to prevent coalition forces from devolving power to Iraqis. Zarqawi’s letter suggests that, as June 30 gets nearer and the terrorists grow more desperate, we can expect a stepped-up campaign to kill and maim as many Iraqis as possible.

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